Lionel Lincoln, or, The Leaguer of Boston,
V2 by James Fenimore Cooper
"She speaks, yet she says nothing; what of that?
"Her eye discourses—I will answer it."
Although the battle of Bunker-hill was fought while the grass yet
lay on the meadows, the heats of summer had been followed by the
nipping frosts of November; the leaf had fallen in its hour, and the
tempests and biting colds of February had succeeded, before Major
Lincoln left that couch where he had been laid, when carried, in total
helplessness, from the fatal heights of the peninsula. Throughout the
whole of that long period, the hidden bullet had defied the utmost
skill of the British surgeons; nor could all their science and
experience embolden them to risk cutting certain arteries and tendons
in the body of the heir of Lincoln, which were thought to obstruct
the passage to that obstinate lead, which, all agreed, alone impeded
the recovery of the unfortunate sufferer. This indecision was one of
the penalties that poor Lionel paid for his greatness; for had it been
Meriton who lingered, instead of his master, it is quite probable the
case would have been determined at a much earlier hour. At length a
young and enterprising leech, with the world before him, arrived from
Europe, who, possessing greater skill or more effrontery (the effects
are sometimes the same) than his fellows, did not hesitate to decide
at once on the expediency of an operation. The medical staff of the
army sneered at this bold innovator, and at first were content with
such silent testimonials of their contempt. But when the friends of
the patient, listening, as usual, to the whisperings of hope,
consented that the confident man of probes should use his instruments,
the voices of his contemporaries became not only loud, but clamorous.
There was a day or two when even the watchworn and jaded subalterns
of the army forgot the dangers and hardships of the siege, to attend
with demure and instructed countenances to the unintelligible jargon
of the "Medici" of their camp; and men grew pale, as they listened,
who had never been known to exhibit any symptoms of the disgraceful
passion before their more acknowledged enemies. But when it became
known that the ball was safely extracted, and the patient was
pronounced convalescent, a calm succeeded that was much more
portentous to the human race than the preceding tempest; and in a
short time the daring practitioner was universally acknowledged to be
the founder of a new theory. The degrees of M. D. were showered upon
his honoured head from half the learned bodies in Christendom, while
many of his enthusiastic admirers and imitators became justly entitled
to the use of the same magical symbols, as annexments to their
patrony micks, with the addition of the first letter in the alphabet.
The ancient reasoning was altered to suit the modern facts, and
before the war was ended, some thousands of the servants of the
crown, and not a few of the patriotic colonists, were thought to have
died, scientifically, under the favour of this important discovery.
We might devote a chapter to the minute promulgation of such an
event, had not more recent philosophers long since upset the practice,
(in which case the theory seems to fall, as a matter of course,) by a
renewal of those bold adventures, which teach us, occasionally,
something new in the anatomy of man; as in the science of geography,
the sealers of New-England have been able to discover Terra
Australis, where Cook saw nothing but water; or Parry finds veins and
arteries in that part of the American continent which had so long
been thought to consist of worthless cartilage.
Whatever may have been the effects of the operation on the surgical
science, it was healthful, in the first degree, to its subject. For
seven weary months Lionel lay in a state in which he might be said to
exist, instead of live, but little conscious of surrounding
occurrences; and happily for himself, nearly insensible to pain and
anxiety. At moments the flame of life would apparently glimmer like
the dying lamp, and then both the fears and hopes of his attendants
were disappointed, as the patient dropped again into that state of
apathy in which so much of his time was wasted. From an erroneous
opinion of his master's sufferings, Meriton had been induced to make
a free use of soporifics, and no small part of Lionel's insensibility
was produced by an excessive use of that laudanum for which he was
indebted to the mistaken humanity of his valet. At the moment of the
operation the adventurous surgeon had availed himself of the same
stupifying drug, and many days of dull, heavy, and alarming apathy
succeeded, before his system, finding itself relieved from its
unnatural inmate, resumed its healthful functions, and began to renew
its powers. By a singular goodfortune his leech was too much occupied
by his own novel honours, to follow up his success, secundem artem
, as a great general pushes a victory to the utmost; and that
matchless doctor, Nature, was permitted to complete the cure.
When the effects of the anodynes had subsided, the patient found
himself entirely free from uneasiness, and dropped into a sweet and
refreshing sleep that lasted for many hours without interruption. He
awoke a new man; with his body renovated, his head clear, and his
recollections, though a little confused and wandering, certainly
better than they had been since the moment when he fell in the mêlée
on Breeds. This restoration to all the nobler properties of life
occurred about the tenth hour of the day; and as Lionel opened his
eyes, with understanding in their expression, they fell upon the
cheerfulness which a bright sun, assisted by the dazzling light of
the masses of snow without, had lent to every object in his apartment.
The curtains of the windows had been opened, and every article of the
furniture was arranged with a neatness that manifested the studied
care which presided over his illness. In one corner, it is true,
Meriton had established himself in an easy-chair, with an arrangement
of attitude which spoke more in favour of his consideration for the
valet than the master, while he was comforting his faculties for a
night of watchfulness, by the sweet, because stolen, slumbers of the
A flood of recollections broke into the mind of Lionel together,
and it was some little time before he could so far separate the true
from the imaginary, as to attain a tolerably clear comprehension of
what had occurred in the little age he had been dozing. Raising
himself on one elbow, without difficulty, he passed his hand once or
twice slowly over his face, and then trusted his voice in a summons to
his man. Meriton started at the well-known sounds, and after
diligently rubbing his eyes, like one who awakes by surprise, he
arose and gave the customary reply.
"How now, Meriton!" exclaimed Major Lincoln; "you sleep as sound as
a recruit on post, and I suppose you have been stationed like one,
with twice-told orders to be vigilant."
The valet stood with open mouth, as if ready to devour his master's
words with more senses than one, and then, as Lionel concluded, passed
his hands in quick succession over his eyes, as before, though with a
very different object, ere he answered—
"Thank God, sir, thank God! you look like yourself once more, and
we shall live again as we used to. Yes, yes, sir—you'll do now—
you'll do this time. That's a miracle of a man, is the great Lon'non
surgeon! and now we shall go back to Soho, and live like civilizers.
Thank God, sir, thank God! you smile again, and I hope if any thing
should go wrong you'll soon be able to give me one of those awful
looks that I am so used to, and which makes my heart jump into my
mouth, when I know I've been forgetful!"
The poor fellow, in whom long service had created a deep attachment
to his master, which had been greatly increased by the solicitude of a
nurse, was compelied to cease his unconnected expressions of joy,
while he actually wept. Lionel was too much affected by this evidence
of feeling, to continue the dialogue, for several minutes; during
which time he employed himself in putting on part of his attire,
assisted by the gulping valet, when, drawing his robe-de-chambre
around his person, he leaned on the shoulder of his man, and took the
seat which the other had so recently quitted.
"Well, well, Meriton, that will do," said Lionel, giving a deep
hem, as though his breathing was obstructed; "that will do, silly
fellow; I trust I shall live to give you many a frown, and some few
guineas, yet.—I have been shot, I know"—
"Shot, sir!" interrupted the valet—"you have been downright and
unlawfully murdered! you were first shot, and then baggoneted, and
after that a troop of horse rode over you.—I had it from one of the
royal Irish, who lay by your side the whole time, and who now lives to
tell of it— a good honest fellow is Terence, and if such a thing
was possible that your honour was poor enough to need a pension, he
would cheerfully swear to your hurts at the King's Bench, or
War-office; Bridewell, or St. James', its all one to the like of him."
"I dare say, I dare say," said Lionel, smiling, though he
mechanically passed his hand over his body, as his valet spoke of the
bayonet—"but the poor fellow must have transferred some of his own
wounds to my person—I own the bullet, but object to the cavalry and
I own the bullet, and it shall be buried with me
in my dressing-box, at the head of my grave," said Meriton, exhibiting
the flattened bit of lead, exultingly, in the palm of his hand— "it
has been in my pocket these thirteen days, after tormenting your
honour for six long months, hid in the what d'ye call 'em muscles,
away behind the thingumy artery. But snug as it was, we got it out!
he is a miracle is the great Lon'non surgeon!"
Lionel reached over to his purse, which Meriton had placed
regularly on the table, each morning, in order to remove again at
night, and dropping several guineas in the hand of his valet, said—
"So much lead must need some gold to sweeten it. Put up the
unseemly thing, and never let me see it again!"
Meriton coolly took the opposing metals, and after glancing his
eyes at the guineas, with a readiness that embraced their amount in a
single look, he dropped them carelessly into one pocket, while he
restored the lead to the other with an exceeding attention to its
preservation. He then turned his hand to the customary duties of his
"I remember well to have been in a fight on the heights of
Charlestown, even to the instant when I got my hurt," continued his
master—"and I even recollect many things that have occurred since;
a period which appears like a whole life to me. But after all,
Meriton, I believe my ideas have not been remarkable for their
"Lord, sir, you have talked to me, and scolded me, and praised me a
hundred and a hundred times over again; but you have never scolded as
sharp like as you can, nor have you ever spoken and looked as bright
as you do this morning!"
"I am in the house of Mrs. Lechmere, again," continued Lionel,
examining the room—"I know this apartment, and those private doors
too well to be mistaken."
"To be sure you are, sir; Madam Lechmere had you brought here from
the field to her own house, and one of the best it is in Boston, too:
and I expect that Madam would some how lose her title to it, if any
thing serious should happen to us?"
"Such as a bayonet, or a troop of horse! but why do you fancy any
"Because, sir, when Madam comes here of an afternoon, which she did
daily, before she sickened, I heard her very often say to herself, if
you should be so unfortunate as to die, there would be an end to all
her hopes of her house."
"Then it is Mrs. Lechmere who visits me daily," said Lionel,
thoughtfully; "I have recollections of a female form hovering around
my bed, though I had supposed it more youthful and active than that
of my aunt."
"And you are quite right, sir—you have had such a nurse the whole
time as is seldom to be met with. For making a posset or a gruel, I'll
match her with the oldest woman in the wards of Guy's; and, to my
taste, the best bar-keeper at the Lon'non is a fool to her at a negus."
"These are high accomplishments, indeed! and who may be their
"Miss Agnus, sir; a rare good nurse is Miss Agnus Danforth! though
in point of regard to the troops, I shouldn't presume to call her at
"Miss Danforth," repeated Lionel, dropping his expecting eyes in
disappointment, from the face of Meriton to the floor—"I hope she
has not sustained all this trouble on my account alone. There are
women enough in the establishment— one would think such offices
might be borne by the domestics—in short, Meriton, was she without
an assistant in all these little kindnesses?"
"I helped her, you know, sir, all I could; though my neguses
never touch the right spot, like Miss Agnus's."
"One would think, by your account, that I have done little else
than guzzle port wine, for six months," said Lionel, pettishly.
"Lord, sir, you wouldn't drink a thimblefull from a glass, often;
which I always took for a bad symptom; for I'm certain 'twas no fault
of the liquor, if it wasn't drunk."
"Well, enough of your favourite beverage! I sicken at the name
already—but, Meriton, have not others of my friends called to
inquire after my fate?"
"Certainly, sir—the commander-in-chief sends an aid or a servant
every day; and Lord Percy left his card more than"—
"Poh! these are calls of courtesy; but I have relatives in
Boston—Miss Dynevor, has she left the town?"
"No, sir," said the valet, very coolly resuming the duty of
arranging the phials on the nighttable; "she is not much of a moving
body, is that Miss Cecil."
"She is not ill, I trust?" demanded Lionel.
"Lord, it goes through me, part joy and part fear, to hear you
speak again so quick and brisk, sir! No, she isn't downright ailing,
but she hasn't the life and knowledge of things, as her cousin, Miss
"Why do you think so, fellow?"
"Because, sir, she is mopy, and don't turn her hand to any of the
light lady's work in the family. I have seen her sit in that very
chair, where you are now, sir, for hours together, without moving;
unless it was some nervous start when you groaned, or breathed a
little upward through your honour's nose—I have taken it into my
consideration, sir, that she poetizes; at all events, she likes what
I calls quietude!"
"Indeed!" said Lionel, pursuing the conversation with an interest
that would have struck a more observant man as remarkable—"what
reason have you for suspecting Miss Dynevor of manufacturing rhymes?"
"Because, sir, she has often a bit of paper in her hand; and I have
seen her read the same thing over and over again, till I'm sure she
must know it by heart; which your poetizers always do with what they
"Perhaps it was a letter?" cried Lionel, with a quickness that
caused Meriton to drop a phial he was dusting, at the expense of its
"Bless me, master Lionel, how strong, and like old times you speak!"
"I believe I am amazed to find you know so much of the divine art,
"Practice makes perfect, you know, sir," said the simpering
valet—"I can't say I ever did much in that way, though I wrote some
verses on a pet pig, as died down at Ravenscliffe, the last time we
was there; and I got considerable eclaw for a few lines on a vase
which lady Bab's woman broke one day, in a scuffle when the foolish
creature said as I wanted to kiss her; though all that knows me,
knows that I needn't break vases to get kisses from the like of her!"
"Very well," said Lionel; "some day when I am stronger, I may like
to be indulged with a perusal— go now, Meriton, to the larder, and
look about you; I feel the symptoms of returning health grow strong
The gratified valet instantly departed, leaving his master to the
musings of his own busy fancy. Several minutes passed away before the
young man raised his head from the hand that supported it, and then
it was only done when he thought he heard a light footstep near him.
His ear had not deceived him, for Cecil Dynevor herself, stood within
a few feet of the chair, which concealed, in a great measure, his
person from her view. It was apparent, by her attitude and her tread,
that she expected to find the sick where she had seen him last, and
where, for so many dreary months, his listless form had been
stretched in apathy. Lionel followed her graceful movements with his
eyes, and as the airy band of her morning cap waved aside at her own
breathing, he discovered the unnatural paleness that was seated on
her speaking features. But when she drew the folds of the bed
curtains, and missed the invalid, thought is not quicker than the
motion with which she turned her light person towards the chair. Here
she encountered the eyes of the young man, beaming on her with
delight, and expressing all that animation and intelligence to which
they had so long been strangers. Yielding to the surprise and the gush
of her feelings, Cecil flew to his feet, and clasping one of his
extended hands in both her own, she cried—
"Lionel, dear Lionel, you are better! God be praised, you look well
Lionel gently extricated his hand from the warm and unguarded
pressure of her soft fingers, and drew forth a paper which she had
unconsciously committed to his keeping.
"This, dearest Cecil," he whispered to the blushing maiden, "this
is my own letter, written when I knew my life to be at imminent
hazard, and speaking the purest thoughts of my heart— tell me,
then, it has not been thus kept for nothing?"
Cecil dropped her face between her hands for a moment, in burning
shame, and then, as all the emotions of the moment crowded around her
heart, she yielded to them as a woman, and burst into a paroxysm of
tears. It is needless to dwell on those consoling and seducing
speeches of the young man, which soon succeeded in luring his
companion not only from her sobs, but even from her confusion, and
permitted her to raise her beautiful countenance to his ardent gaze,
bright and confiding as his fondest wishes could have made it.
The letter of Lionel was too direct, not to save her pride, and it
had been too often perused for a single sentence to be soon forgotten.
Besides, Cecil had watched over his couch too fondly and too long to
indulge in any of those little coquetries which are sometimes met with
in similar scenes. She said all that an affectionate, generous, and
modest female would say on such an occasion; and it is certain, that
well as Lionel looked on waking, the little she uttered had the
effect to improve his appearance ten-fold.
"And you received my letter on the morning after the battle?" said
Lionel, leaning fondly over her, as she still, unconsciously, kneeled
by his side.
"Yes—yes—it was your order that it should be sent to me only in
case of your death; but for more than a month you were numbered as
among the dead by us all.—Oh! what a month was that!"
"Tis past, my sweet friend, and, God be praised, I may now look
forward to health and happiness."
"God be praised, indeed," murmured Cecil, the tears again rushing
to her eyes—"I would not live that month over again, Lionel, for all
that this world can offer!"
"Dearest Cecil," he replied, "I can only repay this kindness and
suffering on my account, by shielding you from the rude contact of the
world, even as your father would protect you, were he again in being."
She looked up in his face with all the soul of a woman's confidence
beaming in her eyes, as she answered—
"You will, Lincoln, I know you will—you have sworn it, and I
should be a wretch to doubt you."
He drew her unresisting form into his arms, and folded her to his
bosom. In another moment a noise, like one ascending the stairs, was
heard through the open door of the room, when all the feelings of her
sex rushed to the breast of Cecil. She sprung on her feet, and hardly
allowing time to the delighted Lionel to note the burning tints that
suffused her whole face, she darted from the room with the rapidity
and lightness of an antelope.
"Dead, for a ducat, dead."
While Lionel was in the confusion of feeling produced by the
foregoing scene, the intruder, after a prelude of singularly heavy and
loud steps, on the floor, as if some one approached on crutches,
entered by a door opposite to the one through which Cecil had so
suddenly vanished. At the next moment the convalescent was saluted by
the full, cheerful voice of his visiter—
"God bless you, Leo, and bless the whole of us, for we need it,"
cried Polwarth, eagerly advancing to grasp the extended hands of his
friend. "Meriton has told me that you have got the true marks of
health—a good appetite, at last. I should have broken my neck in
hurrying up to wish you joy on the moment, but I just stepped into
the kitchen, without Mrs. Lechmere's leave, to show her cook how to
broil the steak they are warming through for you—a capital thing
after a long nap, and full of nutriment—God bless you, my dear Leo;
the look of your bright eye is as stimulating to my spirits as a
West-India pepper is to the stomach."
Polwarth ceased shaking the hands of his reanimated friend, as with
a husky voice he concluded, and turning aside under the pretence of
reaching a chair, he dashed his hand before his eyes, gave a loud
hem, and took his seat in silence. During the performance of this
evolution, Lionel had leisure to observe the altered person of the
captain. His form, though still rotund and even corpulent, was much
reduced in dimensions, while in the place of one of those lower
members with which nature furnishes the human race, he had been
compelled to substitute a leg of wood, somewhat inartificially made,
and roughly shed with iron. This last sad alteration, in particular,
attracted the look of Major Lincoln, who continued to gaze at it with
glistening eyes, for some time after the other had established
himself, to his entire satisfaction, in one of the cushioned seats of
"I see my frame-work has caught your eye, Leo," said Polwarth,
raising the wooden substitute, with an air of affected indifference,
and tapping it lightly with his cane. "'Tis not as gracefully cut,
perhaps, as if it had been turned from the hands of master Phidias,
but in a place like Boston, it is an invaluable member, inasmuch as
it knows neither hunger nor cold!"
"The Americans, then, press the town," said Lionel, glad to turn
the subject, "and maintain the siege with vigour?"
"They have kept us in horrible bodily terror, ever since the
shallow waters toward the mainland have been frozen, and opened a path
directly into the heart of the place. Their Virginian generalissimo,
Washington, appeared a short time after the affair over on the other
peninsula, (a cursed business, that Leo!) and with him came all the
trimmings of a large army. Since that time they have worn a more
military front, though little else has been done, excepting an
occasional skirmish, but cooping us up like so many uneasy pigeons in
"And Gage chafes not at the confinement?"
"Gage!—we sent him off like the soups, months ago. No, no—the
moment the ministry discovered that we had come to our forks, in good
earnest, they chose black Billy to preside: and now we stand at bay
with the rebels, who have already learnt that our leader is not a
child at the grand entertainment of war."
"Yes, seconded by such men as Clinton and Burgoyne, and supported
by the flower of our troops, the position can be easily maintained."
"No position can be easily maintained, Major Lincoln," said
Polwarth, promptly, "in the face of starvation, both internal and
"And is the case so desperate?"
"Of that you shall judge yourself, my friend. When Parliament shut
the port of Boston, the colonies were filled with grumblers; and now
we have opened it, and would be glad to see their supplies, the devil
a craft enters the harbour willingly—ah! Meriton, you have the
steak, I see; put it here, where your master can have it at his
elbow, and bring another plate—I breakfasted but indifferently well
this morning. So we are thrown completely on our own resources. But
the rebels do not let us enjoy even them in peace. This thing is done
to a turn— how charmingly the blood follows the knife!— They have
gone so far as to equip privateers, who cut off our necessaries, and
he is a lucky man who can get a meal like the one before us."
"I had not thought the power of the Americans could have forced
matters to such a pass."
"What I have mentioned, though of vital importance, is not half. If
a man is happy enough to obtain the materials for a good dish—you
should have rubbed an onion over these plates, Mr. Meriton—he don't
know where he is to find fuel to cook it withal."
"Looking at the comforts with which I am surrounded, my good
friend, I cannot but fancy your imagination heightens the distress."
"Fancy no such silly thing, for when you get abroad, you will find
it but too exact. In the article of food, if we are not reduced, like
the men of Jerusalem, to eating one another, we are, half the time,
rather worse off, being entirely destitute of wholesome nutriment. Let
but an unlucky log float by the town, among the ice, and go forth and
witness the struggling and skirmishing between the Yankees and our
frozen fingers for its possession, and you will become a believer!
'Twill be lucky if the water-soaked relic of some wharf should escape
without a cannonade! I don't tell you these things as a grumbler,
Leo; for thank God, I have only half as many toes as other men to keep
warmth in; and as for eating, a little will suffice for me, now my
corporeal establishment is so sadly reduced."
Lionel paused, in melancholy, as his friend attempted to jest at
his misfortune, and then, by a very natural transition for a young man
in his situation, he proudly exclaimed—
"But we gained the day, Polwarth! and drove the rebels from their
entrenchments, like chaff before a whirlwind!"
"Humph!" ejaculated the captain, laying his wooden leg carefully
over its more valuable fellow, and regarding it ruefully, while he
spoke—"had we made a suitable use of the bounties of nature, and
turned their position, instead of running into the jaws of the beast,
many might have left the field better supplied with appurtenances
than are some among us at present. But dark William loves a brush,
they say, and he enjoyed it, on that occasion, to his heart's
"He must be grateful to Clinton for his timely presence?"
"Does the devil delight in martyrdom! The presence of a thousand
rebels would have been more welcome, even at that moment; nor has he
smiled once, on his good natured assistant, since he thrust himself,
in that unwelcome manner, between him and his enemy. We had enough to
think of with our dead and wounded, and in maintaining our conquest,
or something more than black looks and unkind eyes would have followed
"I fear to inquire into the fortunes of the field, so many names of
worth must be numbered in the loss."
"Twelve or fifteen hundred men are not to be knocked on the head
out of such an army and all the clever fellows escape. Gage, I know,
calls the loss something like eleven hundred; but after vaporing so
much about the yankees, their prowess is not to be acknowledged in its
bloom at once. A man seldom goes on one leg, but he halts a little at
first, as I can say from experience— put down thirteen, Leo, as a
medium, and you'll not miscalculate largely—yes, indeed, there were
some brave young men amongst them! those rascally light-footed gentry
that I gave up so opportunely, were finely peppered—and there were
the Fusilleers had hardly men enough left to saddle their goat!"
"And the marines! they must have suffered heavily; I saw Pitcairn
fall before me;" said Lionel, speaking with hesitation—"I greatly
fear our old comrade, the grenadier, did not escape with better
"Mac!" exclaimed Polwarth, casting a furtive glance at his
companion.—"Ay, Mac was not as lucky in that business as he was in
Germany—he-em—Mac—had an obstinate way with him, Leo, a damn'd
obstinate fellow in all military matters, but as generous a heart and
as free in sharing a mess-hill as any man in his majesty's service! I
crossed the river in the same boat with him, and he entertained us
with his queer thoughts on the art of war. According to Mac's notions
of things, the grenadiers were to do all the fighting—a damn'd odd
way with him had Mac!"
"There are few of us without peculiarities, and I could wish that
none of them were more offensive than the trifling prejudices of poor
"Yes, yes," added Polwarth, hemming violently, as if determined to
clear his throat at every hazard; "he was a little opinionated in
trifles, such as a knowledge of war, and matters of discipline, but
in all important things as tractable as a child. He loved his joke,
but it was impossible to have a less difficult or a more unpretending
palate in one's mess! The greatest evil I can wish him was breath in
his body, to live and enjoy, in these hard times, when things become
excellent by comparison, the sagacious provision which his own
ingenuity contrived to secure out of the cupidity of our ancient
landlord, Mister Seth Sage."
"Then that notable scheme did not entirely fall to the ground,"
said Lionel, with a feverish desire to change the subject once more.
"I had thought the Americans were too vigilant to admit the
"Seth has been too sagacious to permit them to obstruct it. The
prices acted like a soporific on his conscience, and, by using your
name I believe, he has formed some friend of sufficient importance
amongst the rebels to protect him in his trade. His supplies make
their appearance twice a-week as regularly as the meats follow the
soups in a well-ordered banquet."
"You then can communicate with the country, and the country with
the town! Although Washington may wink at the proceeding, I should
fear the scowl of Howe."
"Why, in order to prevent suspicions of unfair practices, and at
the same time to serve the cause of humanity, so the explanation
reads, you know, our sapient host, has seen fit to employ a fool as
his agent in the intercourse. A fellow, as you may remember, of some
notoriety; a certain simpleton, who calls himself Job Pray."
Lionel continued silent for many moments, during which time his
recollections began to revive, and his thoughts glanced over the
scenes that occurred in the first months of his residence in Boston.
It is quite possible that a painful, though still general and
indefinite feeling mingled with his musings, for he evidently strove
to expel some such unwelcome intruder, as he resumed the discourse
with a strong appearance of forced gayety.
"Ay, ay, I well remember poor Job—a fellow once seen and known,
not easily to be forgotten. He used, of old, to attach himself greatly
to my person, but I suppose, like the rest of the world, I am
neglected when in retirement."
"You do the lad injustice; he not only makes frequent inquiries,
after his slovenly manner I acknowledge, concerning your condition,
but sometimes he seems better informed in the matter than myself, and
can requite my frequent answers to his questions, by imparting,
instead of receiving, intelligence of your improvement; more
especially since the ball has been extracted."
"That should be very singular, too," said Lionel, with a still more
"Not so very remarkable, Leo, as one would at first imagine,"
interrupted his companion— "the lad is not wanting in sagacity, as
he manifested by his choice of dishes at our old messtable— Ah!
Leo, Leo, we may see many a discriminating palate, but where shall we
go to find another such a friend! one who could eat and' joke—drink
and quarrel with a man in a breath, like poor Dennis, who is gone from
among us for ever! There was a piquancy about poor Mac that acted on
the dullness of life like condiments on the natural appetite!"
Meriton, who was diligently brushing his master's coat, an office
that he performed daily, though the garment had not been worn in so
long a period, stole a glance at the averted eye of the Major, and
understanding its expression to indicate a determined silence, he
ventured to maintain the discourse in his own unworthy person.
"Yes, sir, a nice gentleman was captain M`Fuse, and one as fought
as stoutly for the king as any gentleman in the army, all agrees.—It
was a thousand pities such a fine figure of a man hadn't a better
idea of dress; it isn't all, sir, as is gifted in that way! But every
body says he's a detrimental loss, though there's some officers in
town who consider so little how to wear their, ornaments, that if
they were to be shot I am sure no one would miss them."
"Ah! Meriton," cried the full-hearted Polwartb, "I see you are a
youth of more observation than I had suspected! Mac had all the seeds
of a man in him, though some of them might not have come to maturity.
There was a flavour in his humour that served as a relish to every
conversation in which he mingled. Did you serve the poor fellow up in
handsome style, Meriton, for his last worldly exhibition?"
"Yes, indeed, sir, we gave him as ornamental a funeral as can be
seen out of Lon'non. Besides the Royal Irish, all the grenadiers was
out; that is all as wasn't hurt, which was near half of them. As I
knowed the regard Master Lionel had for the captain, I dressed him
with my own hands—I trimmed his whiskers, sir, and altered his hair
more in front, and seeing that his honour was getting a little gray, I
threw on a sprinkling of powder, and as handsome a corpse was captain
M`Fuse as any gentleman in the army, let the other be who he may!"
The eyes of Polwarth twinkled, and he blew his nose with a noise
not unlike the sound of a clarion ere he rejoined—
"Yes, yes, time and hardships had given a touch of frost to the
head of the poor fellow; but it is a consolation to know that he died
like a soldier, and not by the hands of that vulgar butcher, Nature;
and that being dead, he was removed according to his deserts!"
"Indeed, sir," said Meriton, with a solemnity worthy of the
occasion, "we gave him a great procession—a great deal can be made
out of his majesty's uniform, on such festivities, and it had a
wonderful look about it!—Did you speak, sir?"
"Yes," added Lionel, impatiently, "remove the cloth; and go,
inquire if there be letters for me."
The valet submissively obeyed, and after a short pause the dialogue
was resumed by the gentlemen on subjects of a less painful nature.
As Polwarth was exceedingly communicative, Lionel soon obtained a
very general, and to do the captain suitable justice, an extremely
impartial account of the situation of the hostile forces, as well as
of all the leading events that had transpired since the day of Breeds.
Once or twice the invalid ventured an allusion to the spirit of the
rebels, and to the unexpected energy they had discovered; but
Polwarth heard them all in silence, answering only by a melancholy
smile, and, in the last instance, by a significant gesture towards his
unnatural supporter. Of course, after this touching acknowledgment of
his former error, his friend waved the subject for others less
He learned that the royal general maintained his hardly-earned
conquest on the opposite peninsula, where he was as effectually
beleaguered, however, as in the town of Boston itself. In the
meantime, while the war was conducted in earnest at the point where it
commenced, hostilities had broken out in every one of those colonies
south of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, where the presence of
the royal troops invited an appeal to force. At first, while the
colonists acted under the impulses of the high enthusiasm of a sudden
rising, they had been everywhere successful. A general army had been
organized, as already related, and divisions were employed at
different points to effect those conquests, which, in that early
state of the struggle, were thought to be important to the main
result. But the effects of their imperfect means and divided power
were already becoming visible. After a series of minor victories,
Montgomery had fallen in a most desperate but unsuccessful attempt to
carry the impregnable fortress of Quebec; and ceasing to be the
assailants, the Americans were gradually compelled to collect their
resources to meet that mighty effort of the crown which was known to
be not far distant. As thousands of their fellow-subjects in the
mother country manifested a strong repugnance to the war, the Ministry
so far submitted to the influence of that free spirit which first
took deep root in Britain, as to turn their eyes to those states of
Europe, who made a trade in human life, in quest of mercenaries to
quell the temper of the colonists. In consequence, the fears of the
timid amongst the Americans were excited by rumours of the vast
hordes of Russians and Germans who were to be poured into their
country with the fell intent to make them slaves. Perhaps no step of
their enemies had a greater tendency to render them odious in the
eyes of the Americans, than this measure of introducing foreigners to
decide a quarrel purely domestic. So long as none but men who had
been educated in those acknowledged principles of justice and law,
known to both people, were admitted to the contest, there were
visible points common to each, which might render the struggle less
fierce, and in time lead to a permanent reconciliation. But they
reasoned not inaptly when they asserted that in a contest rendered
triumphant by slaves, nothing but abject submission could ensue to the
conquered. It was like throwing away the scabbard, and, by abandoning
reason, submitting the result to the sword alone. In addition to the
estrangement these measures were gradually increasing between the
people of the mother-country and the colonies, must be added the
change it produced amongst the latter in their habits of regarding
the person of their prince.
During the whole of the angry discussion, and the recriminations
which preceded the drawing of blood, the colonists had admitted, to
the fullest extent, not only in their language, but in their
feelings, that fiction of the British law which says "the king can do
no wrong." Throughout the wide extent of an empire, on which the sun
was never known to set, the English monarch could boast of no subjects
more devoted to his family and person, than the men who now stood in
arms against what they honestly believed to be the unconstitutional
encroachments of his power. Hitherto the whole weight of their
resentment had justly fallen on the advisers of the Prince, who
himself was thought to be ignorant, as he was probably innocent, of
the abuses so generally practised in his name. But as the contest
thickened, the natural feelings of the man were thought to savour of
the political acts he was required to sanction with his name. It was
soon whispered amongst those who had the best means of intelligence,
that the feelings of the sovereign were deeply interested in the
maintenance of what he deemed his prerogative, and the ascendency of
that body of the representatives of his empire, which he met in person
and influenced by his presence. Ere long this opinion was rumoured
abroad, and as the minds of men began to loosen from their ancient
attachments and prejudices, they confounded, by a very natural
feeling, the head with the members; forgetting that "Liberty and
Equality" formed no part of the trade of Princes. The name of the
monarch was daily falling into disrepute; and as the colonial writers
ventured to allude more freely to his person and power, the
glimmerings of that light were seen, which was a precursor of the
rise of `the stars of the west' amongst the na tional symbols of the
earth. Until then, few had thought, and none had ventured to speak
openly of independence, though events had been silently preparing the
colonists for such a final measure.
Allegiance to the Prince was the last and only tie to be severed,
for the colonies already governed themselves in all matters, whether
of internal or foreign policy, as effectually as any people could,
whose right to do so was not generally acknowledged. But as the
honest nature of George IIId. admitted of no disguise, mutual disgust
and alienation were the natural consequences of the reaction of
sentiment between the Prince and his western people.
All this, and much more of minute detail, was hastily commented on
by Polwarth, who possessed, in the midst of his epicurean
propensities, sterling good-sense, and great integrity of intention.
Lionel was chiefly a listener, nor did he cease the greedy and
interesting employment until warned by his weakness, and the stroke of
a neighbouring clock, that he was trespassing too far on prudence.
His friend then assisted the exhausted invalid to his bed, and after
giving him a world of good advice, together with a warm pressure of
the hand, he stumped his way out of the room, with a noise that
brought, at every tread, an echo from the heart of Major Lincoln.
"God never meant that man should scale the heavens "By strides of
A VERY few days of gentle exercise in the bracing air of the
season, were sufficient to restore the strength of the invalid, whose
wounds had healed while he lay slumbering under the influence of the
anodynes prescribed by his leech. Polwarth, in consideration of the
dilapidated state of his own limbs, together with the debility of
Lionel, had so far braved the ridicule of the army, as to set up one
of those comfortable and easy conveyances, which, in the good old
times of colonial humility, were known by the quaint and unpretending
title of tom-pungs. To equip this establishment, he had been compelled
to impress one of the fine hunters of his friend. The animal had been
taught, by virtue of much training from his groom, aided a little,
perhaps, by the low state of the garners of the place, to amble
through the snow as quietly as if he were conscious of the altered
condition of his master's health. In this safe vehicle the two
gentlemen might be seen daily gliding along the upper streets of the
town, and moving through the winding paths of the common, receiving
the congratulations of their friends; or, in their turn, visiting
others, who, like themselves, had been wounded in the murderous battle
of the preceding summer, but who, less fortunate than they, were
still compelled to submit to the lingering confinement of their
It was not difficult to persuade Cecil and Agnes to join in many of
their short excursions, though no temptation could induce the latter
to still the frown that habitually settled on her beautiful brow,
whenever chance or intention brought them in contact with any of the
gentlemen of the army. Miss Dynevor was, however, much more
conciliating in her deportment, and even at times, so gracious as to
incur the private reproaches of her friend.
"Surely, Cecil, you forget how much our poor country men are
suffering in their miserable lodgings without the town, or you would
be less prodigal of your condescension to these butterflies of the
army," cried Agnes, pettishly, while they were uncloaking after one of
these rides, during which the latter thought her cousin had lost
sight of that tacit compact, by which most of the women of the
colonies deemed themselves bound to exhibit their feminine resentments
to their invaders—"were a chief from our own army presented to you,
he could not have been received in a sweeter manner than you bestowed
your smile to-day on that sir Digby Dent!"
"I can say nothing in favour of its sweetness, my acid cousin, but
that sir Digby Dent is a gentleman—"
"A gentleman! yes—so is every Englishman who wears a scarlet
coat, and knows how to play off his airs in the colonies!"
"And as I hope I have some claims to be called a lady," continued
Cecil, quietly, "I do not know why in the little intercourse we have,
I should be rude to him."
"Cecil Dynevor!" exclaimed Agnes, with a sparkling eye, and with a
woman's intuitive perception of the other's motives, "all Englishmen
are not Lionel Lincolns."
"Nor is Major Lincoln an Englishman," returned Cecil, laughing,
while she blushed; "though I have reason to think that captain
Polwarth may be."
"Silly, child, silly; the poor man has paid the penalty of his
offence, and is to be regarded with pity."
"Have a care, my coz.—Pity is one of a large connexion of gentle
feelings; when you once admit the first-born, you may leave open your
doors to the whole family."
"Now that is exactly the point in question, Cecil—because you
esteem Major Lincoln, you are willing to admire Howe and all his
myrmidons; but I can pity, and still be firm."
"Le bon temps viendra!"
"Never," interrupted Agnes, with a warmth that prevented her
perceiving how much she admitted—"Never, at least, under the guise
of a scarlet coat."
Cecil smiled, but having completed her toilet, she withdrew without
making any reply.
Such little discussions, enlivened more or less by the peculiar
spirit of Agnes, were of frequent occurrence, though the eye of her
cousin became daily more thoughtful, and the indifference with which
she listened, was more apparent in each succeeding dialogue.
In the meantime, the affairs of the siege, though conducted with
extreme caution, amounted only to a vigilant blockade.
The Americans lay by thousands in the surrounding villages, or were
hutted in strong bands nigh the batteries which commanded the
approaches to the place. Notwithstanding, their means had been
greatly increased, by the capture of several vessels, loaded with
warlike stores, as well as by the reduction of two important
fortresses towards the Canadian frontiers, they were still too scanty
to admit of that wasteful expenditure which is the usual accompaniment
of war. In addition to their necessities, as a reason for
forbearance, might also be mentioned the feelings of the colonists,
who were anxious, in mercy to themselves, to regain their town as
little injured as possible. On the other hand, the impression made by
the battle of Bunker-hill was still so vivid as to curb the enterprise
of the royal commanders, and Washington had been permitted to hold
their powerful forces in check, by an untrained and half-armed
multitude, that was, at times, absolutely destitute of the means of
maintaining even a momentary contest.
As, however, a show of hostilities was maintained, the reports of
cannon were frequently heard, and there were days when skirmishes
between the advanced parties of the two hosts, brought on more heavy
firings, which continued for longer periods. The ears of the ladies
had been long accustomed to these rude sounds, and as the trifling
loss which followed was altogether confined to the outworks, they were
listened to with but little or no terror.
In this manner a fortnight flew swiftly away, without an incident
to be related. One fine morning, at the end of that period, Polwarth
drove into the little court-yard of Mrs. Lechmere's residence, with
all those knowing flourishes he could command, and which in the year
1775 were thought to indicate the greatest familiarity with the
properties of a tom-pung. In another minute his wooden member was
heard in the passage, timing his steps as he approached the room where
the rest of the party were waiting his appearance. The two cousins
stood wrapped in furs, with their smiling faces blooming beneath
double rows of lace to soften the pictures, while Major Lincoln was
in the act of taking his cloak from Meriton as the door opened for the
admission of the captain.
"What, already dished!" exclaimed the goodnatured Polwarth,
glancing his eyes from one to the other—"so much the better;
punctuality is the true leaven of life—a good watch is as necessary
to the guest as the host, and to the host as his cook. Miss Agnes, you
are amazingly murderous to-day! If Howe expects his subalterns to do
their duty, he should not suffer you to go at large in his camp."
The fine eye of Miss Danforth sparkled as he proceeded, but
happening to fall on his mutilated person, its expression softened,
and she was content with answering with a smile—
"Let your general look to himself; I seldom go abroad but to espy
The captain gave an expressive shrug of his shoulder, and turning
aside to his friend, said in an under tone—
"You see how it is, Major Lincoln; ever since I have been compelled
to serve myself up, like a turkey from yesterday's dinner, with a
single leg, I have not been able to get a sharp reply from the young
woman—she has grown an even-tempered, tasteless morsel! and I am
like a two-prong fork; only fit for carving! well, I care not how
soon they cut me up entirely, since she has lost her piquancy—but
shall we to the church?"
Lionel looked a little embarrassed, and fingered a paper he held in
his hand, for a moment, before he handed it to the other for his
"What have we here?" continued Polwarth— "Two officers wounded in
the late battle, desire to return thanks for their recovery"—hum—
hum—hum—two?—yourself, and who is the other?"
"I had hoped it would be my old companion and school-fellow?"
"Ha! what, me!" exclaimed the captain, unconsciously elevating his
wooden-leg, and examining it with a rueful eye—"umph! Leo, do you
think a man has a particular reason to be grateful for the loss of a
"It might have been worse."
"I don't know," interrupted Polwarth, a little obstinately—"there
would have been more symmetry in it, if it had been both."
"You forget your mother," continued Lionel, as though the other had
not spoken; "I am very sure it will give her heartfelt pleasure."
Polwarth gave a loud hem, rubbed his hand over his face once or
twice, gave another furtive glance at his solitary limb, and then
answered, with a little tremour in his voice—
"Yes, yes—I believe you are quite right—a mother can love her
child, though he should be chopped into mince-meat! The sex get that
generous feeling after they are turned of forty— it's your young
woman that is particular about proportions and correspondents."
"You consent, then, that Meriton shall hand in the request as it
Polwarth hesitated a single instant longer, and then, as he
remembered his distant mother, for Lionel had touched the right chord,
his heart melted within him.
"Certainly, certainly—it might have been worse, as it was with
poor Dennis—ay, let it pass for two; it shall go hard but I find a
knee to bend on the occasion. Perhaps, Leo, when a certain young lady
sees I can have a `te deum' for my adventure, she may cease to think
me such an object of pity as at present?"
Lionel bowed in silence, and the captain, turning to Agnes,
conducted her to the sleigh with a particularly lofty air, that he
intended should indicate his perfect superiority to the casualties of
war. Cecil took the arm of Major Lincoln, and the whole party were
soon seated in the vehicle that was in waiting.
Until this day, which was the second Sunday since his reappearance,
and the first on which the weather permitted him to go abroad, Lionel
had no opportunity to observe the altered population of the town. The
inhabitants had gradually left the place, some clandestinely, and
others under favour of passes from the royal general, until those who
remained were actually outnumbered by the army and its dependents. As
the party approached the "King's Chapel," the street was crowded by
military men, collected in groups, who indulged in thoughtless
merriment, reckless of the wounds their light conversation inflicted
on the few townsmen who might be seen moving towards the church, with
deportments suited to the solemnity of their purpose, and countenances
severely chastened by a remembrance of the day, and its serious
duties. Indeed, so completely had Boston lost that distinctive
appearance of sobriety, which had ever been the care and pride of its
people, in the levity of a garrison, that even the immediate precincts
of the temple were not protected from the passing jest or rude mirth
of the gay and unreflecting, at an hour when a quiet was wont to
settle on the whole province, as deep as if Nature had ceased her
ordinary functions to unite in the worship of man. Lionel observed
the change with mortification, nor did it escape his uneasy glances,
that his two female companions concealed their faces in their muffs,
as if to exclude a view that brought still more painful recollections
to minds early trained in the reflecting habits of the country.
When the sleigh drew up before the edifice, a dozen hands were
extended to assist the ladies in their short but difficult passage
into the heavy portico. Agnes coldly bowed her acknowledgments,
observing, with an extremely equivocal smile, to one of the most
assiduous of the young men—
"We, who are accustomed to the climate, find no difficulty in
walking on ice, though to you foreigners it may seem so
hazardous."—She then bowed, and walked gravely into the bosom of the
church, without deigning to bestow another glance to her right hand
or her left.
The manner of Cecil, though more chastened and feminine, and
consequently more impressive, was equally reserved. Like her cousin,
she proceeded directly to her pew, repulsing the attempts of those
who wished to detain her a moment in idle discourse, by a lady-like
propriety that checked the advance of all who approached her. In
consequence of the rapid movement of their companions, Lionel and
Polwarth were left among the crowd of officers who thronged the
entrance of the church. The former moved up within the colonnade, and
passed from group to group, answering and making the customary
inquiries of men engaged in the business of war. Here, three or four
veterans were clustered about one of those heavy columns, that were
arranged in formidable show on three faces of the building,
discussing, with becoming gravity, the political signs of the times,
or the military condition of their respective corps. There, three or
four unfledged boys, tricked in all the vain emblems of their
profession, impeded the entrance of the few women who appeared, under
the pretence of admiration for the sex, while they secretly dwelt on
the glitter of their own ornaments. Scattered along the whole extent
of the entrance were other little knots; some listening to the idle
tale of a professed jester, some abusing the land in which it was
their fate to serve, and others recounting the marvels they had
witnessed in distant climes, and in scenes of peril which beggared
their utmost powers of description.
Among such a collection it was not difficult, however, to find a
few whose views were more elevated, and whose deportment might be
termed less offensive, either to breeding or principles. With one of
the gentlemen of the latter class Lionel was held for some time in
discourse, in a distant part of the portico. At length the sounds of
the organ were heard issuing from the church, and the gay parties
began to separate, like men suddenly reminded why they were collected
in that unusual place. The companion of Major Lincoln had left him,
and he was himself following along the colonnade, which was now but
thinly peopled, when his ear was saluted by a low voice, singing in a
sort of nasal chant at his very elbow—
"Wo unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the
Synagogues, and greetings in the market!"
Though Lionel had not heard the voice since the echoing cry had
issued out of the fatal redoubt, he knew its first tones on the
instant. Turning at this singular denunciation, he beheld Job Pray,
erect and immovable as a statue, in one of the niches, in front of the
building, whence he gave forth his warning voice, like some oracle
speaking to its devotees.
"Fellow, will no peril teach you wisdom!" demanded Lionel—"how
dare you brave our resentment so wantonly?"
But his questions were unheeded. The young man, whose features
looked pale and emaciated, as if he had endured recent bodily disease,
whose eye was glazed and vacant, and whose whole appearance was more
squalid and miserable than usual, appeared perfectly indifferent to
all around him. Without even altering the riveted gaze of his
unmeaning eye, he continued—
"Wo unto you! for ye neither go in yourselves; neither suffer ye
them that are entering to go in!"
"Art deaf, fool!" demanded Lionel.
In an instant the eye of the other was turned on his interrogator,
and Major Lincoln felt a thrill pass through him, when he met the wild
gleam of intelligence that lighted the countenance of the changeling,
as he continued in the same ominous tones—
"Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of
the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, is in danger of
For a moment Lionel stood as if spell-bound, by the manner of Job,
while he uttered this dreadful anathema. But the instant the secret
influence ceased, he tapped the lad lightly with his cane, and bid
him descend from the niche.
"Job's a prophet," returned the other, dishonouring his declaration
at the same time, by losing the singular air of momentary
intelligence, in his usual appearance of mental imbecility—"it's
wicked to strike a prophet. The Jews stoned the prophets, and beat
"Do then as I bid you—would you stay here to be beaten by the
soldiers? Go now, away; after service come to me, and I will furnish
you with a better coat than the garment you wear."
"Did you never read the good book," said Job, "where it tells how
you mus'n't take heed for food nor raiment? Nab says when Job dies
he'll go to heaven, for he gets nothing to wear, and but little to
eat. Kings wear their di'mond crowns and golden flauntiness; and kings
always go to the dark place."
The lad suddenly ceased, and crouching into the very bottom of his
niche, he began to play with his fingers, like an infant amused with
the power of exercising its own members. At the same moment Lionel
turned from him, attracted by the rattling of side arms, and the tread
of many feet behind him. A large party of officers belonging to the
staff of the army had paused to listen to what was passing. Amongst
them Lionel recognised, at the first glance, two of the chieftains,
who, a little in advance of their attendants, were keenly eyeing the
singular being that was squatted in the niche. Notwithstanding his
surprise, Major Lincoln detected the scowl that impended over the
dark brow of the commander-in-chief, while he bowed low, in deference
to his rank.
"Who is this fellow, that dare condemn the mighty of the earth to
such sweeping perdition?" demanded Howe—"his own sovereign amongst
"'Tis an unfortunate being, wanting in intellect, with whom
accident has made me acquainted," returned Major Lincoln; "who hardly
knows what he utters, and least of all, in whose presence he has been
"It is to such idle opinions, which are conceived by the designing,
and circulated by the ignorant, that we may ascribe the wavering
allegiance of the colonies," said the British General. "I hope you
can answer for the loyalty of your singular acquaintance, Major
Lionel was about to reply with some little spirit, when the
companion of the frowning chief suddenly exclaimed—
"By the feats of the feathered Hermes, but this is the identical
Merry Andrew who took the flying leap from Copp's, of which I have
already spoken to you.—Am I in error, Lincoln? Is not this the
shouting philosopher, whose feelings were so elevated on the day of
Breeds, that he could not refrain from flying, but who, less fortunate
than Icarus, made his descent on terra firma?"
"I believe your memory is faithful, sir," said Lionel, answering
the smile of the other—"the lad is often brought to trouble by his
Burgoyne gave a gentle impulse to the arm he held, as if he thought
the wretched being before them unworthy of further consideration;
though secretly with a view to prevent an impolitic exhibition of the
well-known propensity of his senior to push his notions of military
ascendency to the extreme. Perceiving, by the still darkening look of
the other, that he hesitated, his ready lieutenant observed—
"Poor fellow! his treason was doubly punished, by a flight of some
fifty feet down the declivity of Copp's, and the mortification of
witnessing the glorious triumph of his majesty's troops.—To such a
wretch we may well afford forgiveness."
Howe insensibly yielded to the continued pressure of the other, and
his hard features even relaxed into a scowling smile, as he said,
while turning away—
"Look to your acquaintance, Major Lincoln, or bad as his present
condition seems, he may make it worse. Such language cannot be
tolerated in a place besieged. That is the word, I believe— the
rebels call their mob a besieging army, do they not?"
"They do gather round our winter-quarters, and claim some such
"It must be acknowledged they did well on Breeds too! The shabby
rascals fought like true men."
"Desperately, and with some discretion," answered Burgoyne; "but it
was their fortune to meet those who fought better, and with greater
skill—shall we enter?"
The frown was now entirely chased from the brow of the chief, who
"Come, gentlemen, we are tardy; unless more industrious we shall
not be in season to pray for the king, much less ourselves."
The whole party advanced a step, when a bustle in the rear
announced the approach of another officer of high rank, and the second
in command entered into the colonnade, followed also by the gentlemen
of his family. The instant he appeared the self-contented look
vanished from the features of Howe, who returned his salute with cold
civility, and immediately entered the church. The quick-witted
Burgoyne again interposed, and as he made way in his turn, he found
means to whisper into the ear of Clinton some well-imagined allusion
to the events of that very field which had given birth to the
heart-burnings between his brother generals, and had caused the
feelings of Howe to be estranged from the man to whose assistance he
owed so much. Clinton yielded to the subtle influence of the
flattery, and followed his commander into the house of God, with a
bland contentment that he probably mistook for a feeling much better
suited to the place and the occasion. As the whole group of
spectators, consisting of aids, secretaries, and idlers, without,
immediately imitated the example of the generals, Lionel found himself
alone with the changeling.
From the moment that Job discovered the vicinity of the English
leader, to that of his disappearance, the lad remained literally
immovable. His eye was fastened on vacancy, his jaw had fallen in a
manner to give a look of utter mental alienation to his countenance;
and, in short, he exhibited the degraded lineaments and figure of a
man, without his animation or intelligence. But as the last footsteps
of the retiring party became inaudible, the fear which had put to
flight the feeble intellects of the simpleton, slowly left him, and
raising his face, he said, in a low, growling voice—
"Let him go out to Prospect; the people will teach him the law!"
"Perverse and obstinate simpleton!" cried Lionel, dragging him,
without further ceremony, from the niche—"will you persevere in that
foolish cry until you are whipped from regiment to regiment for your
"You promised Job the grannies shouldn't beat him any more, and Job
promised to run your ar'n'ds."
"Ay! but unless you learn to keep silence, boy, I shall forget my
promise, and give you up to the anger of all the grannies in town."
"Well," said Job, brightening in his look, like a fool in his
exultation, "they are half of them dead, at any rate; Job heard the
biggest man among 'em roar like a ravenous lion, `hurrah for the royal
Irish,' but he never spoke ag'in; though there wasn't any better rest
for Job's gun than a dead man's shoulder!"
"Wretch!" cried Lionel, recoiling from him in horror, "are your
hands then stained with the blood of M`Fuse!"
"Job didn't touch him with his hands," returned the undisturbed
simpleton—"for he died like a dog, where he fell!"
Lionel stood a moment in utter confusion of thought; but hearing
the infallible evidence of the near approach of Polwarth in his tread,
he said, in a hurried manner, and in a voice half choked by his
"Go, fellow, go to Mrs. Lechmere's, as I bid you—tell—tell
Meriton to look to my fire."
The lad made a motion towards obeying, but checking himself, he
looked up into the face of the other with a piteous and suffering
look, and said—
"See, Job's numb with cold! Nab and Job can't get wood now; the
king keeps men to fight for it—let Job warm his flesh a little; his
body is cold as the dead!"
Touched to the heart by the request, and the helpless aspect of the
lad, Lionel made a silent signal of assent, and turned quickly to meet
his friend. It was not necessary for Polwarth to speak, in order to
apprise Major Lincoln that he had overheard part of the dialogue
between him and Job. His countenance and attitude sufficiently
betrayed his knowledge, as well as the effect it had produced on his
feelings. He kept his eyes on the form of the simpleton, as the lad
shuffled his way along the icy street, with an expression that could
not easily be mistaken.
"Did I not hear the name of poor Dennis?" at length he asked.
"'Twas some of the idle boasting of the fool. But why are you not
in the pew?"
"The fellow is a protégé of yours, Major Lincoln; but you may carry
forbearance too far," returned Polwarth, gravely. "I come for you, at
the request of a pair of beautiful blue eyes, that have inquired of
each one that has entered the church, this half-hour, where and why
Major Lincoln has tarried."
Lionel bowed his thanks, and affected to laugh at the humour of his
friend, while they proceeded together to the pew of Mrs. Lechmere
without further delay.
The painful reflections excited by this interview with Job,
gradually vanished from the mind of Lionel, as he yielded to the
influence of the solemn service of the church. He heard the difficult
and suppressed breathing of the fair being who kneeled by his side,
while the minister read those thanksgivings which personally concerned
himself, and no little of earthly gratitude mingled with the loftier
aspirations of the youth, as he listened. He caught the timid glance
of the soft eye from behind the folds of Cecil's veil, as they rose,
and he took his seat as happy as an ardent young man might well be
fancied, under the consciousness of possessing the best affections of
a female so youthful, so lovely, and so pure.
Perhaps the service was not altogether so consoling to the feelings
of Polwarth. As he recovered his solitary foot again, with some little
difficulty, he cast a very equivocal glance at his dismembered
person, hemmed aloud, and finished with a rattling of his wooden-leg
about the pew, that attracted the eyes of the whole congregation, as
if he intended the ears of all present should bear testimony in whose
behalf their owners had uttered their extraordinary thanksgivings.
The officiating minister was far too discreet to vex the attention
of his superiors with any prolix and unwelcome exhibitions of the
Christian's duty. The impressive delivery of his text required one
minute. Four were consumed in the exordium. The argument was
ingeniously condensed into ten more; and the peroration of his essay
was happily concluded in four minutes and a half; leaving him the
satisfaction of knowing, as he was assured by fifty watches, and twice
that number of contented faces, that he had accomplished his task by
half a minute within the orthodox period.
For this exactitude he doubtless had his reward. Among other
testimonials in his favour, when Polwarth shook his hand to thank him
for his kind offices in his own behalf, he found room for a high
compliment to the discourse, concluding by assuring the flattered
divine, "that in addition to its other great merits, it was done in
"Away; let naught to love displeasing,
"My Winifreda, move your care:
"Let naught delay the heavenly blessing,
"Nor squeamish pride, nor gloomy fear."
It was perhaps fortunate for the tranquillity of all concerned,
that during this period of their opening confidence, the person of
Mrs. Lechmere came not between the bright image of purity and
happiness that Cecil presented in each lineament and action, and the
eyes of her lover. The singular, and somewhat contradictory interests
that lady had so often betrayed in the movements of her young kinsman,
were no longer visible to awaken his slumbering suspicious. Even
those inexplicable scenes in which his aunt had so strangely been an
actor, were forgotten in the engrossing feelings of the hour; or, if
remembered at all, were only suffered to dim the pleasing pictures of
his imagination, as an airy cloud throws his passing shadows across
some cheerful and lovely landscape. In addition to those very natural
auxiliaries, love and hope, the cause of Mrs. Lechmere had found a
very powerful assistant, in the bosom of Lionel, through an accident
which had confined her for a long period, not only to her apartment,
but to her bed.
On that day, when the critical operation was performed on the
person of Major Lincoln, his aunt was known to have awaited the result
in intense anxiety. As soon as the favourable termination was
reported to her, she hastened towards his room with an unguarded
eagerness, which, added to the general infirmities of her years, had
nearly cost the price of her life. Her foot became entangled in her
train, in ascending the stairs, but disregarding the warning cry of
Agnes Danforth, with that sort of reckless vehemence that sometimes
broke through the formal decorum of her manners, she sustained. in
consequence, a fall that might well have proved fatal to a much
younger woman. The injury she received was severe and internal; and
the inflammation, though not high, was sufficiently protracted to
arouse the apprehensions of her attendants. The symptoms were,
however, now abating, and her recovery no longer a matter of question.
As Lionel heard this from the lips of Cecil, the reader will not
imagine the effect produced by the interest his aunt took in his
welfare, was at all lessened by the source whence he derived his
knowledge. Notwithstanding Cecil dwelt on such a particular evidence
of Mrs. Lechmere's attachment to her nephew, with much earnestness,
it had not escaped Major Lincoln that her name was but seldom
introduced in their frequent conversations, and never, on the part of
his companion, without a guarded delicacy that appeared sensitive in
the extreme. As their confidence, however, increased with their hourly
communications, he began gently to lift the veil which female reserve
had drawn before her inmost feelings, and to read a heart whose purity
and truth would have repaid a more difficult investigation.
When the party returned from the church, Cecil and Agnes
immediately hastened to the apartment of the invalid, leaving Lionel
in possession of the little wainscoted parlour by himself; Polwarth
having proceeded to his own quarters, with the assistance of the
hunter. The young man passed a few minutes in pacing the room, musing
deeply on the scene he had witnessed before the church; now and then
casting a vacant look on the fanciful ornaments of the walls, among
which the armorial bearings of his own name were so frequent, and in
such honourable situations. At length he heard that light footstep
approach, whose sound had now become too well known to be mistaken,
and in another instant he was joined by Miss Dynevor.
"Mrs. Lechmere!" he said, leading her to a settee, and placing
himself by her side; "you found her better, I trust?"
"So well that she intends adventuring, this morning, an interview
with your own formidable self. Indeed, Lionel, you have every reason
to be grateful for the deep interest my grandmother takes in your
welfare! Ill as she has been, her inquiries in your behalf were
ceaseles; and I have known her refuse to answer any questions about
her own critical condition, until her physician had relieved her
anxiety concerning yours."
As Cecil spoke, the tears rushed into her eyes, and her bloom
deepened with the strength of her feelings.
"It is to you, then, that much of my gratitude is due," returned
Lionel; "for by permitting me to blend my lot with yours, I find new
value in her eyes. Have you acquainted Mrs. Lechmere with the full
extent of my presumption? She knows of our engagement?"
"Could I do otherwise? while your life was in peril, I confined the
knowledge of my interest in your situation to my own breast; but when
we were flattered with the hopes of a recovery, I placed your letter
in the hands of my natural adviser, and have the consolation of
knowing that she approves of my—what shall I call it, Lionel—
would not folly be the better word?"
"Call it what you will, so you do not disavow it. I have hitherto
forborne inquiring into the views of Mrs. Lechmere, in tenderness to
her situation; but I may flatter myself, Cecil, that she will not
For a single instant the blood rushed tumultuously over the fine
countenance of Miss Dynevor, suffusing even her temples and forehead
with its healthful bloom; but, as she cast a reproachful glance at
her lover, it deserted even her cheeks, while she answered calmly,
though with a slight exhibition of displeasure in her air—
"It may have been the misfortune of my grandmother to view the head
of her own family with too partial eyes; but, if it be so, her reward
should not be distrust. The weakness is, I dare say, very natural,
though not less a weakness."
For the first time, Lionel fully comprehended the cause of that
variable manner with which Cecil had received his attentions, until
interest in his person had stilled her sensitive feelings. Without,
however, betraying the least consciousness of his intelligence, he
"Gratitude does not deserve so forbidding a name as distrust; nor
will vanity permit me to call partiality in my favour a weakness."
"The word is a good and a safe term as applied to poor human
nature," said Cecil, smiling once more with all her native sweetness,
"and you may possibly overlook it when you recollect that our foibles
are sometimes hereditary."
"I pardon your unkind suspicion for that gentle acknowledgment. But
I may now, without hesitation, apply to your grandmother for her
consent to our immediate union?"
"You would not have your epithalamium sung, when, at the next
moment, you may be required to listen to the dirge of some friend!"
"The very reason you urge against our marriage, induces me to press
it, Cecil. As the season advances, this play of war must end. Howe
will either break out of his bounds, and drive the Amricans from the
hills, or seek some other point for more active warfare. In either
case you would be left in a distracted and divided country, at an age
too tender for your own safety, rather the guardian than the ward of
your helpless parent. Surely, Cecil, you would not hesitate to accept
of my protection at such a crisis, I had almost dared to say, in
tenderness to yourself, as well as to my feelings!"
"Say on," she answered; "I admire your ingenuity, if not your
argument. In the first place, however, I do not believe your general
can drive the Americans from their posts so easily; for, by a very
simple process in figures, that even I understand, you may find, if
one hill costs so many hundred men, that the purchase of the whole
would be too dear—nay, Lionel, do not look so grave, I implore you!
Surely, surely, you do not think I would speak idly of a battle that
had nearly cost your life, and—and— my happiness."
"Say on," said Lionel, instantly dismissing the momentary cloud
from his brow, and smiling fondly in her anxious face; "I admire your
casuistry, and worship your feeling; but can, also, deny your
Reassured by his voice and manner, after a moment of extreme
agitation, she continued in the same playful tones as before—
"But we will suppose all the hills won, and the American chief,
Washington, who, though nothing but a rebel, is a very respectable
one, driven into the country with his army at his heels; I trust it
is to be done without the assistance of the women? Or, should Howe
remove his force, as you intimate, will he not leave the town behind
him? In either case I should remain quietly where I am; safe in a
British garrison, or safer among my countrymen."
"Cecil, you are alike ignorant of the dangers and of the rude
lawlessness of war! Though Howe should abandon the place, 'twould be
only for a time; believe me, the ministry will never yield the
possession of a town like this, which has so long dared their power,
to men in arms against their lawful prince."
"You have strangely forgotten the last six months, Lionel, or you
would not accuse me of ignorance of the misery that war can inflict!"
"A thousand thanks for the kind admission, dearest Cecil, as well
as for the hint," said the young man, shifting the ground of his
argument with the consistency, as well as the readiness of a lover;
"you have owned your sentiments to me, and would not refuse to avow
"Not to one whose self-esteem will induce him to forget the
weakness; but, perhaps, I might hesitate to do such a silly thing
before the world."
"I will then put in to your heart," he continued, without regarding
the smiling coquetry she had affected. "Believing the best, you will
admit that another battle would be no strange occurrence?"
She raised her anxious looks to his face, but remained silent.
"We both know—at least I know, from sad experience, that I am far
from being invulnerable. Now, answer me, Cecil, not as a female
struggling to support the false pride of her sex, but as a woman,
generous and full of heart, like yourself— were the events of the
last six months to recur, whether would you live them over, affianced
in secret, or as an acknowledged wife, who might not blush to show
her tenderness to the world?"
It was not until the large drops that glistened at his words upon
the dark lashes of Miss Dynevor, were shaken from the tremulous
fringes that concealed her eyes, that she looked up, blushing into
his face, and said—
"Do you not then think, that I endured enough, as one who felt
herself betrothed, but that closer ties were necessary to fill the
measure of my suffering?"
"I cannot even thank you as I would for those flattering tears,
until my question is plainly answered."
"Is this altogether generous, Lincoln?"
"Perhaps not in appearance, but sincerely so in truth. By heaven,
Cecil, I would shelter and protect you from a rude contact with the
world, even as I seek my own happiness!"
Miss Dynevor was not only confused, but distressed; she, however,
said, in a low voice—
"You forget, Major Lincoln, that I have one to consult, without
whose approbation I can promise nothing."
"Will you, then, refer the question to her wisdom? Should Mrs.
Lechmere approve of our immediate union, may I say to her, that you
authorize me to ask it?"
Cecil said nothing; but smiling through her tears, she permitted
Lionel to take her hand in a manner that a much less sanguine man
would have found no difficulty in construing into an assent.
"Come, then," he cried; "let us hasten to the apartment of Mrs.
Lechmere; did you not say she expected me?" She suffered him to draw
her arm through his own, and lead her from the room. Notwithstanding
the buoyant hopes with which Lionel conducted his companion through
the passages of the house, he did not approach the chamber of Mrs.
Lechmere without some inward repugnance. It was not possible to forget
entirely all that had so recently passed, or to still, effectually,
those dark suspicions which had been once awakened within his bosom.
His purpose, however, bore him onward, and a glance at the trembling
being who now absolutely leaned on him for support, drove every
consideration, in which she did not form a most prominent part, from
The enfeebled appearance of the invalid, with a sudden recollection
that she had sustained so much, in consequence of her anxiety in his
own behalf, so far aided the cause of his aunt, that the young man
not only met her with cordiality, but with a feeling akin to gratitude.
The indisposition of Mrs. Lechmere had now continued for several
weeks, and her features, aged and sunken as they were by the general
decay of nature, afforded strong additional testimony of the severity
of her recent illness. Her face, besides being paler and more
emaciated than usual, had caught that anxious expression which great
and protracted bodily ailing is apt to leave on the human countenance.
Her brow was, however, smooth and satisfied, unless, at moments, when
a slight and involuntary play of the muscles betrayed that fleeting
pains continued, at short intervals, to remind her of her illness. She
received her visiters with a smile that was softer and more
conciliating than usual, and which the pallid and care-worn appearance
of her features rendered deeply impressive.
"It is kind, cousin Lionel," she said, extending her withered hand
to her young kinsman, "in the sick to come thus to visit the well. For
after so long apprehending the worst on your account, I cannot
consent that my trifling injury should be mentioned before your more
"Would, madam, that you had as happily recovered from their effects
as myself," returned Lionel, taking her hand and pressing it with
great sincerity. "I shall never forget that you owe your illness to
anxiety for me."
"Let it pass, sir; it is natural that we should feel strongly in
behalf of those we love. I have lived to see you well again, and, God
willing, I shall live to see this wicked rebellion crushed." She
paused; and smiling, for a moment, on the young pair who had
approached her couch, she continued, "Cecil hastold me all, Major
"No, not all, dear madam," interrupted Lionel; "I have something
yet to add; and in the commencement, I will own that I depend
altogether on your pity and judgment to support my pretensions."
"Pretensions is an injudicious word, cousin Lionel; where there is
a perfect equality of birth, education, and virtues, and, I may say,
considering the difference in the sexes, of fortune too, it may
amount to claims; but pretensions is an expresion too ambiguous.
Cecil, my child, go to my library; in the small, secret drawer of my
escritoir, you will find a paper bearing your name; read it, my love,
and then bring it hither."
She motioned to Lionel to be seated, and when the door had closed
on the retiring form of Cecil, she resumed the conversation.
"As we are about to speak of business, the confused girl may as
well be relieved, Major Lincoln. What is this particular favour that I
shall be required to yield?"
"Like any other sturdy mendicant, who may have already partaken
largely of your bounty, I come to beg the immediate gift of the last
and greatest boon you can bestow."
"My grandchild. There is no necessity for useless reserves between
us, cousin Lionel, for you will remember that I too am a Lincoln. Let
us then speak freely, like two friends, who have met to determine on
a matter equally near to the heart of each."
"Such is my earnest wish, Madam.—I have been urging on Miss
Dynevor the peril of the times, and the critical situation of the
country, in both of which I have found the strongest reasons for our
"Has been like herself; kind, but dutiful. She refers me entirely
to your decision, by which alone she consents to be guided."
Mrs. Lechmere made no immediate reply, but her features powerfully
betrayed the inward workings of her mind. It certainly was not
displeasure that caused her to hesitate, her hollow eye lighting with
a gleam of satisfaction that could not be mistaken; neither was it
uncertainty, for her whole countenance seemed to express rather the
uncontrollable agitation which might accompany the sudden
accomplishment of longdesired ends, than any doubt as to their
prudence. Gradually her agitation subsided; and as her feelings
became more natural, her hard eyes filled with tears, and when she
spoke, there was a softness mingled with the tremor of her voice that
Lionel had never before witnessed.
"She is a good and a dutiful child, my own, my obedient Cecil! She
will bring you no wealth, Major Lincoln, that will be esteemed among
your hordes, nor any proud title to add to the lustre of your
honourable name; but she will bring you what is as good, if not
better—nay, I am sure it must be better—a pure and virtuous
heart, that knows no guile!"
"A thousand and a thousand times more estimable in my eyes, my
worthy aunt!" cried Lionel, melting before the touch of nature, which
had so effectually softened the harsh feelings of Mrs. Lechmere; "let
her come to my arms pennyless, and without a name; she will be no
less my wife, no less her own invaluable self."
"I spoke only by comparison, Major Lincoln; the child of Colonel
Dynevor, and the granddaughter of the Lord Viscount Cardonnell, can
have no cause to blush for her lineage; neither will the descendant of
John Lechmere be a dowerless bride! When Cecil shall become Lady
Lincoln, she need never wish to conceal the escutcheon of her own
ancestors under the bloody hand of her husband's."
"May heaven long avert the hour when either of us may be required
to use the symbol!" exclaimed Lionel.
"Did I not understand aright! was not your request for an instant
"Never less in error, my dear Madam; but you surely do not forget
that one lives so mutually dear to us, who has every reason to hope
for many years of life; and I trust, too, of happiness and reason!"
Mrs. Lechmere looked wildly at her nephew, and then passed her hand
slowly before her eyes, from whence she did not withdraw them until an
universal shudder had shaken the whole of her enfeebled frame.
"You are right, my young cousin," she said, smiling faintly—"I
believe my bodily weakness has impaired my memory.—I was indeed
dreaming of days long since past! You stood before me in the image of
your desolate father, while Cecil bore that of her mother; my own
long-lost, but wilful Agnes! Oh! she was my child, my child! and God
has forgotten her faults in mercy to a mother's prayers!"
Lionel recoiled a step before the wild energy of the invalid's
manner, in speechless amazement. A flush had passed into her pallid
cheeks, and as she concluded, she clasped her hands before her, and
sunk on the pillows which supported her back. Large insulated tears
fell from her eyes, and slowly moving over her wasted cheeks, dropped
singly upon the counterpane. Lionel laid his land upon the night-bell,
but an expressive gesture from his aunt prevented his ringing.
"I am well, again," she said—"hand me the restorative by your
Mrs. Lechmere drank freely from the glass, and in another minute
her agitation subsided, her features settling into their rigid
composure, and her eye resuming its hard expression, as though
nothing had occurred to disturb her usual cold and worldly look.
"You see how much better youth can endure the ravages of disease
than age, by my present weakness, Major Lincoln," she continued; "but
let us return to other, and more agreeable subjects— you have not
only my consent, but my wish that you should wed my grandchild. It a
happiness that I have rather hoped for, than dared to expect, and I
will freely add, 'tis a consummation of my wishes that will render
the evening of my days not only happy, but blessed!"
"Then, dearest Madam, why should it be delayed—no one can say
what a day may bring forth at such a time as this, and the moment of
bustle and action is not the hour to register the marriage vows."
After musing a moment, Mrs. Lechmere replied—
"We have a good and holy custom in this religious province, of
choosing the day which the Lord has set apart for his own exclusive
worship, as that on which to enter into the honourable state of
matrimony. Choose, then, between this or the next Sabbath for your
Whatever might be the ardour of the young man, he was a little
surprised at the shortness of the former period; but the pride of his
sex would not admit of any hesitation.
"Let it be this day, if Miss Dynevor can be brought freely to
"Here then she comes, to tell you, that at my request, she does.
Cecil, my own sweet child, I have promised Major Lincoln that you will
become his wife this day."
Miss Dynevor, who advanced into the centre of the room, before she
heard the purport of this speech, stopped short, and stood like a
beautiful statue, expressing astonishment and dismay. Her colour went
and came with alarming quickness, and the paper fell from her
trembling hands to her feet, which appeared riveted to the floor."
"To-day!" she repeated, in a voice barely audible—"did you say
to-day, my grandmother?"
"Even to-day, my child."
"Why this reluctance, this alarm, Cecil?" said Lionel, approaching,
and leading her gently to a seat. "You know the peril of the times—
you have condescended to own your sentiments— consider; the winter
is breaking, and the first thaw can lead to events which may entirely
alter our situation."
"All these may have weight in your eyes, Major Lincoln,"
interrupted Mrs. Lechmere, in a voice whose marked solemnity drew the
attention of her hearers; "but I have other and deeper motives. Have
I not already proved the dangers and the evils of delay! Ye are young,
and ye are virtuous; why should ye not be happy? Cecil, if you love
and revere me, as I think you do, you will become his wife this day."
"Let me have time to think, dearest grandmother. The tie is so new
and so solemn! Major Lincoln—dear Lionel, you are not wont to be
ungenerous; I throw myself on your kindness!"
Lionel did not speak, and Mrs. Lechmere calmly answered—
"'Tis not at his, but at my request that you will comply."
Miss Dynevor rose from her seat by the side of Lionel, with an air
of offended delicacy, and said, with a mournful smile, to her lover—
"Illness has rendered my good mother timid and weak—will you
excuse my desire to be alone with her."
"I leave you, Cecil," he said, "but if you asscribe my silence to
any other motive than tenderness to your feelings, you are unjust both
to yourself and me."
She expressed her gratitude only in her looks, and he immediately
withdrew, to await the result of their conversation in his own
apartment. The half-hour that Lionel passed in his chamber seemed
half a year, but at the expiration of that short period of time,
Meriton came to announce that Mrs. Lechmere desired his presence
again in her room.
The first glance of her eye assured Major Lincoln that his cause
had triumphed. His aunt had sunk back on her pillows, with her
countenance set in a calculating and rigid expression, which
indicated a satisfaction so selfish that it almost induced the young
man to regret she had not failed. But when his eyes met the tearful
and timid glances of the blushing Cecil, he felt, that provided she
could be his without violence to her feelings, he cared but little at
whose instigation she had consented.
"If I am to read my fate by your goodness, I know I may hope," he
said, advancing to her side—"if in my own deserts, I am left to
"Perhaps 'twas foolish, Lincoln," she said, smiling through her
tears, and frankly placing her hand in his, "to hesitate about a few
days, when I feel ready to devote my life to your happiness. It is
the wish of my grandmother that I place myself under your protection."
"Then this evening unites us for ever?"
"There is no obligation on your gallantry that it should positively
take place this very evening, if any, or the least difficulties
"But none do nor can," interrupted Lionel. "Happily the marriage
forms of the colony are simple, and we enjoy the consent of all who
have any right to interfere."
"Go, then, my children, and complete your brief arrangements," said
Mrs. Lechmere; "'tis a solemn knot that ye tie! it must, it will be
Lionel pressed the hand of his intended bride, and withdrew, and
Cecil throwing herself into the arms of her grandmother, gave vent to
her feelings in a burst of tears. Mrs. Lechmere did not repulse her
child; on the contrary, she pressed her once or twice to her heart,
but still an observant spectator might have seen that her looks
betrayed more of worldly pride, than of those natural emotions which
such a scene ought to have excited.
"Come, friar Francis be brief; only to the plain form of "marriage."
Much Ado About Nothing.
Major Lincoln had justly said, the laws regulating marriages in the
Massachusetts, which were adapted to the infant state of the country,
threw but few impediments in the way of the indissoluble connexion.
Cecil had, however, been educated in the bosom of the English church,
and she clung to its forms and ceremonies with an affection that may
easily be accounted for in their solemnity and beauty. Notwithstanding
the colonists often chose the weekly festival for their bridals, the
rage of reform had excluded the altar from most of their temples, and
it was not usual with them to celebrate their nuptials in the places
of public worship. But there appeared so much of unreasonable haste,
and so little of due preparation in her own case, that Miss Dynevor,
anxious to give all solemnity to an act to whose importance she was
sensibly alive, expressed her desire to pronounce her vows at that
altar where she had so long been used to worship, and under that roof
where she had already, since the rising of the sun, poured out the
thanksgivings of her pure spirit in behalf of the man who was so soon
to become her husband.
As Mrs. Lechmere had declared that the agitation of the day, and
her feeble condition must unavoidably prevent her witnessing the
ceremony, there existed no sufficient reason for not indulging the
request of her grandchild, notwithstanding it was not in strict
accordance with the customs of the place. But being married at the
altar, and being married in public, were not similar duties, and in
order to effect the one and avoid the other, it was necessary to
postpone the ceremony until a late hour, and to clothe the whole in a
cloak of mystery, that the otherwise unembarrassed state of the
parties would not have required.
Miss Dynevor made no other confidant than her cousin. Her feelings
being altogether elevated above the ordinarily idle considerations
which are induced by time and preparations on such an occasion, her
brief arrangements were soon ended, and she awaited the appointed
moment without alarm, if not without emotion.
Lionel had much more to perform. He knew that the least intimation
of such a scene would collect a curious and a disagreeable crowd
around and in the church, and he therefore determined that his plans
should be arranged in silence, and managed secretly. In order to
prevent a surprise, Meriton was sent to the clergyman, requesting him
to appoint an hour in the evening when he could give an interview to
Major Lincoln. He was answered, that at any moment after nine o'clock
Dr. Liturgy would be released from the duties of the day, and in
readiness to receive him. There was no alternative; and ten was the
time mentioned to Cecil when she was requested to meet him before the
altar. Major Lincoln distrusted a little the discretion of Polwarth,
and he contented himself with merely telling his friend that he was
to be married that evening, and that he must be careful to repair to
Tremont-street in order to give away the bride; appointing an hour
sufficiently early for all the subsequent movements. His groom and his
valet had their respective and separate orders, and long before the
important moment he had every thing arranged, as he believed, beyond
the possibility of a disappointment.
Perhaps there was something a little romantic, if not diseased in
the mind of Lionel, that caused him to derive a secret pleasure from
the hidden movements he contemplated. He was certainly not entirely
free from a touch of that melancholy and morbid humour which has been
mentioned as the characteristic of his race, nor did he always feel
the less happy because he was a little miserable. However, either by
his activity of intellect, or that excellent training in life he had
undergone, by being required to act early for himself, he had so far
succeeded in quelling the evil spirit within him, as to render its
influence quite imperceptible to others, and nearly so to himself. It
had, in fine, left him what we have endeavoured to represent him in
these pages, not a man without faults, but certainly one of many high
and generous virtues.
As the day drew to a close, the small family party in
Tremont-street collected in their usual manner to partake of the
evening repast, which was common throughout the colonies at that
period. Cecil was pale, and at times a slight tremor was perceptible
in the little hand which did the offices of the table; but there was a
forced calmness seated in her humid eyes that betokened the
resolution she had summoned to her assistance, in order to comply with
the wishes of her grandmother. Agnes Danforth was silent and
observant, though an occasional look, of more than usual meaning,
betrayed what she thought of the mystery and suddenness of the
approaching nuptials. It would seem, however, that the importance of
the step she was about to take, had served to raise the bride above
the little affectations of her sex; for she spoke of the preparations
like one who owned her interest in their completion, and who even
dreaded that something might yet occur to mar them.
"If I were superstitious, and had faith in omens, Lincoln," she
said, "the hour and the weather might well intimidate me from taking
this step. See, the wind already blows across the endless wastes of
the ocean, and the snow is driving through the streets in whirlwinds!"
"It is not yet too late to countermand my orders, Cecil," he said,
regarding her anxiously; "I have made all my movements so like a great
commander, that it is as easy to retrograde as to advance."
"Would you then retreat before one so little formidable as I?" she
"You surely understand me as wishing only to change the place of
our marriage. I dread exposing you and our kind cousin to the tempest,
which, as you say, after sweeping over the ocean so long, appears
rejoiced to find land on which to expend its fury."
"I have not misconstrued your meaning, Lionel, nor must you be
mistaken in mine. I will become your wife to-night, and cheerfully
too; for what reason can I have to doubt you now, more than formerly!
But my vows must be offered at the altar."
Agnes perceiving that her cousin spoke with a suppressed emotion
that made utterance difficult, gaily interrupted her—
"And as for the snow, you know little of Boston girls, if you think
an icicle has any terrors for them. I vow, Cecil, I do think you and I
have been guilty, when children, of coasting in a handsled, down the
side of Beacon, in a worse flurry than this."
"We were guilty of many mad and silly things at ten, that might not
grace twenty, Agnes."
"Lord, how like a matron she speaks already!" interrupted the
other, throwing up her eyes and clasping her hands in affected
admiration; "nothing short of the church will satisfy so discreet a
dame, Major Lincoln! so dismiss your cares on her account, and begin
to enumerate the cloaks and over-coats necessary to your own
Lionel made a lively reply, when a dialogue of some spirit ensued
between him and Agnes, to which even Cecil listened with a beguiled
ear. When the evening had advanced, Polwarth made his appearance,
suitably attired, and with a face that was sufficiently knowing and
important for the occasion. The presence of the captain reminded
Lionel of the lateness of the hour, and, without delay, he hastened
to communicate his plans to his friend.
At a few minutes before ten, Polwarth was to accompany the ladies
in a covered sleigh to the chapel, which was not a stone's throw from
their residence, where the bridegroom was to be in readiness to
receive them, with the divine. Referring the captain to Meriton for
further instructions, and without waiting to hear the other express
his amazement at the singularity of the plan, Major Lincoln said a
few words of tender encouragement to Cecil, looked at his watch, and
throwing his cloak around him, took his hat, and departed.
We shall leave Polwarth endeavouring to extract the meaning of all
these mysterious movements, from the wilful and amused Agnes, (Cecil
having retired also,) and accompany the bridegroom in his progress
towards the residence of the divine.
Major Lincoln found the streets entirely deserted. The night was
not dark, for a full moon was wading among the volumes of clouds,
which drove before the tempest in dark and threatening masses that
contrasted singularly and wildly to the light covering of the hills
and buildings of the town. Occasionally the gusts of the wind would
lift eddying wreaths of fine snow from some roof, and whole squares
were wrapped in mist as the frozen vapour whistled by. At times, the
gale howled among the chimneys and turrets, in a steady, sullen
roaring, and there were again moments when the element appeared
hushed, as if its fury were expended, and winter, having worked its
might, was yielding to the steady, but insensible advances of spring.
There was something in the season and the hour peculiarly in
consonance with the excited temperament of the young bridegroom. Even
the solitude of the streets, and the hollow rushing of the winds, the
fleeting and dim light of the moon, which afforded passing glimpses of
sunrounding objects and then was hid behind a dark veil of shifting
vapour, contributed to his pleasure. He made his way through the snow,
with that species of stern joy, to which all are indebted, at times,
for moments of wild and pleasing self-abandonment. His thoughts
vacillated between the purpose of the hour, and the unlooked for
coincidence of circumstances that had clothed it in a dress of such
romantic mystery. Once or twice a painful and dark thought, connected
with the secret of Mrs. Lechmere's life, found its way among his more
pleasing visions, but it was quickly chased from his mind by the image
of her who awaited his movements in such confiding faith, and with
such secure and dependent affection.
As the residence of Dr. Liturgy was on the North-end, which was
then one of the fashionable quarters of the town, the distance
required that Lionel should be diligent, in order to be punctual to
his appointment. Young, active, and full of hope, he passed along the
unequal pavements with great rapidity, and had the satisfaction of
penceiving by his watch, when admitted to the presence of the
clergyman, that his speed had even outstripped the proverbial
fleetness of time itself.
The reverend gentleman was in his study, consoling himself for the
arduous duties of the day, with the comforts of a large easy-chair, a
warm fire, and a pitcher filled with a mixture of cider and ginger,
together with other articles that would have done credit to the
knowledge of Polwarth in spices. His full and decorous wig was
replaced by a velvet cap, his shoes were unbuckled, and his heels
released from confinement. In short, all his arrangements were those
of a man who, having endured a day of labour, was resolved to prove
the enjoyments of an evening of rest. His pipe, though filled, and on
the little table by his side, was not lighted, in compliment to the
guest he expected at that hour As he was slightly acquainted with
Major Lincoln, no introduction was necessary, and the two gentlemen
were soon seated; the one endeavouring to overcome the embarrassment
he felt on revealing his singular errand, and the other waiting, in
no little curiosity, to learn the reason why a member of parliament,
and the heir of ten thousand a year, should come abroad on such an
At length Lionel succeeded in making the astonished priest
understand his wishes, and paused to hear the expected approbation of
Dr. Liturgy had listened with the most profound attention, as if to
catch some clue to explain the mystery of the extraordinary
proceeding, and when the young man concluded, he unconsciously
lighted his pipe, and began to throw out large clouds of smoke, like a
man who felt there was a design to abridge his pleasures, and who was
consequently determined to make the most of his time.
"Married! To be married in church! and after the night lecture!" he
muttered in a low voice between his long drawn puffs—"'tis my
duty—certainly—Major Lincoln—to marry my parishioners"—
"In the present instance, as I know my request to be irregular,
sir," interrupted the impatient Lionel, "I will make it your interest
also." While speaking he took a well-filled purse from his pocket,
and with an air of much delicacy laid a small pile of gold by the side
of the silver spectacle-case of the divine, as if to show him the
difference in the value of the two metals.
Dr. Liturgy bowed his acknowledgments, and insensibly changed the
stream of smoke to the opposite corner of his month, so as to leave
the view of the glittering boon unobstructed. At the same time he
raised the heel of one shoe, and threw an anxious glance at the
curtained window, to inquire into the state of the weather.
"Could not the ceremony be performed at the house of Mrs.
Lechmere?" he asked; "Miss Dynevor is a tender child, and I fear the
cold air of the chapel might do her no service!"
"It is her wish to go to the altar, and you are sensible it is not
my part to question her decision in such a matter."
"'Tis a pious inclination; though I trust she knows the distinction
between the spiritual and the temporal church. The laws of the
colonies are too loose on the subject of marriages, Major Lincoln;
culpably and dangerously loose!"
"But, as it is not in our power to alter, my good sir, will you
permit me to profit by them; imperfect as they are?"
"Undeniably—it is part of my office to christen, to marry, and to
bury; a duty which I often say, covers the beginning, the middle, and
the end of existence—but permit me to help you to a little of my
beverage, Major Lincoln—we call it `Samson,' in Boston; you will
find the `Danite' a warm companion for a February night in this
"The mixture is not inaptly named, sir," said Lionel, after wetting
his lips, "if strength be the quality most considered!"
"Ah! you have him from the lap of a Delilah; but it is unbecoming
in one of my cloth to meddle with aught of the harlot."
He laughed at his own wit, and made a more spirituous than
spiritual addition to his own glass, while he continued—
"We divide it into `Samson with his hair off,' and `Samson with his
hair on;' and I believe myself the most orthodox in preferring the man
of strength, in his native comeliness. I pledge you, Major Lincoln;
may the middle of your days be as happy as the charming young lady
you are about to espouse may well render them; and your end, sir,
that of a good churchman, and a faithful subject."
Lionel, who considered this compliment as an indication of his
success, now rose, and said a few words on the subject of their
meeting in the chapel. The divine, who manifestly possessed no great
relish for the duty, made sundry slight objections to the whole
proceeding, which were, however, soon overcome by the arguments of
the bridegroom. At length every difficulty was happily adjusted, save
one, and that the epicurean doctor stoutly declared to be a serious
objection to acting in the matter. The church fires were suffered to
go down, and his sexton had been taken from the chapel that very
evening, with every symptom on him of the terrible pestilence which
then raged in the place, adding, by its danger, to the horrors and the
privations of the siege.
"A clear case of the small pox, I do assure you, Major Lincoln," he
continued, "and contracted, without doubt, from some emissaries sent
into the town for that purpose, by the wicked devices of the rebels."
"I have heard that each party accuses the other of resorting to
these unjustifiable means of annoyance," returned Lionel; "but as I
know our own leader to be above such baseness, I will not suspect any
other man of it without proof."
"Too charitable by half, sir—much too charitable! But let the
disease come whence it will, I fear my sexton will prove its victim."
"I will take the charge on myself of having the fires renewed,"
said Lionel; "the embers must yet be in the stoves, and we have still
an hour of time before us."
As the clergyman was much too conscientious to retain possession of
the gold without fully entitling himself to the ownership, he had long
before determined to comply, notwithstanding the secret yearnings of
his flesh. Their plans were now soon arranged, and Lionel, after
receiving the key of the chapel, took his leave for a time.
When Major Lincoln found himself in the street again, he walked for
some distance in the direction of the chapel, anxiously looking along
the deserted way, in order to discover an unemployed soldier, who
might serve to perform the menial offices of the absent sexton. He
proceeded for some distance without success, for every thing human
seemed housed, even the number of lights in the windows beginning to
decrease in a manner which denoted that the usual hour of rest had
arrived. He had paused in the entrance of the dock-square, uncertain
where to apply for an assistant, when he caught a glimpse of the
figure of a man, crouching under the walls of the old turreted
ware-house, so often mentioned. Without hesitating an instant, he
approached the spot, from which the figure neither moved, nor did it
indeed betray any other evidence of a consciousness of his proximity.
Notwithstanding the dimness of the moon, there was light enough to
detect the extreme misery of the object before him. His tattered and
thin attire sufficiently bespoke the motive of the stranger for
seeking a shelter from the cutting winds behind an angle of the wall,
while his physical wants were betrayed by the eager manner in which
he gnawed at a bone that might well have been rejected from the mess
of the meanest private, notwithstanding the extreme scarcity that
prevailed in the garrison. Lionel forgot for a moment his present
object, at this exhibition of human suffering, and with a kind voice
he addressed the wretched being.
"You have a cold spot to eat your supper in, my friend," he said;
"and it would seem, too, but a scanty meal?"
Without ceasing to masticate his miserable nutriment, or even
raising his eyes, the other said, in a growling voice—
"The king could shut up the harbor, and keep out the ships; but he
hasn't the might to drive cold weather from Boston, in the month of
"As I live, Job Pray! Come with me, boy, and I will give you a
better meal, and a warmer place to enjoy it in—but first tell me;
can you procure a lantern and a light from your mother?"
"You can't go in the ware'us' to-night," returned the lad,
"Is there no place at hand, then, where such things might be
"They keep them there," said Job, pointing sullenly to a low
building on the opposite side of the square, through one of the
windows of which a faint light was glimmering.
"Then take this money and go buy them for me, without delay."
Job hesitated with ill-concealed reluctance.
"Go, fellow, I have instant need of them, and you can keep the
change for your reward."
The young man no longer betrayed any indisposition to go, but
answered, with great promptitude for one of his imbecile mind—
"Job will go, if you will let him buy Nab some meat with the
"Certainly, buy what you will with it; and furthermore, I promise
you that neither your mother nor yourself shall want again for food or
"Job's a-hungry," said the simpleton; "but they say hunger don't
come as craving upon a young stomach as upon an old one. Do you think
the king knows what it is to be a-cold and hungry?"
"I know not, boy—but I know full well that if one suffering like
you were before him, his heart would yearn to relieve him. Go, go, and
buy yourself food too, if they have it?"
In a very few minutes Lionel saw the simpleton issuing from the
house to which he had run at his bidding, with the desired lantern.
"Did you get any food," said Lionel, motioning to Job to precede
him with the light—"I trust you did not entirely forget yourself in
your haste to serve me?"
"Job hopes he didn't catch the pestilence," returned the lad,
eating at the same time voraciously of a small roll of bread.
"Catch what? what is it you hope you did not catch?"
"The pestilence—they are full of the foul disorder in that house."
"Do you mean the small-pox, boy?"
"Yes; some call it small-pox, and some call it the foul disorder,
and other some the pestilence. The king can keep out the trade, but
he can't keep out the cold and the pestilence from Boston—but when
the people get the town back, they'll know what to do with
it—they'll send it all to the pest-housen!"
"I hope I have not exposed you unwittingly to danger, Job—it
would have been better had I gone myself, for I was innoculated for
the terrible disease in my infancy."
Job, who, in expressing his sense of the danger, had exhausted the
stores of his feeble mind on the subject, made no reply, but continued
walking through the square, until they reached its termination, when
he turned, and inquired which way he was to go.
"To the church," said Lionel, "and swiftly, lad."
As they entered Corn-hill, they encountered the fury of the wind,
when Major Lincoln bowing his head, and gathering his cloak about him,
followed the light which flitted along the pavement in his front.
Shut out in a manner from the world by this covering, his thoughts
returned to their former channel, and in a few moments he forgot
where he was, or who he was following. He was soon awakened from his
abstraction by perceiving that it was necessary for him to ascend a
few steps, when supposing he had reached the place of destination, he
raised his head, and unthinkingly followed his conductor into the
tower of a large edifice. Immediately perceiving his mistake, by the
difference of the architecture from that of the King's chapel, he
reproved the lad for his folly, and demanded why he had brought him
"This is what you call a church," said Job, "though I call it a
meetin'us'—It's no wonder you don't know it—for what the people
built for a temple, the king has turned into a stable!"
"A stable!" exclaimed Lionel. Perceiving a strong smell of horses
in the place, he advanced and threw open the inner door, when, to his
amazement, he perceived that he stood in an area fitted for the
exercises of the cavalry. There was no mistaking the place, nor its
uses. The naked galleries, and many of the original ornaments were
standing, but the accommodations below were destroyed, and in their
places the floor had been covered with earth, for horses and their
riders to practise in the cavesson. The abominations of the place even
now offended his senses as he stood on that spot where he remembered
so often to have seen the grave and pious colonists assemble, in
crowds, to worship. Seizing the lantern from Job, he hurried out of
the building with a disgust that even the unobservant simpleton had
no difficulty in discovering. On reaching the street his eyes fell
upon the lights, and on the silent dignity of Province-house, and he
was compelled to recollect, that this wanton violation of the
feelings of the colonists, had been practised directly under the
windows of the royal governor.
"Fools, fools!" he muttered bitterly; "when ye should have struck
like men, ye have trifled as children; and ye have forgotten your
manhood, and even your God, to indulge your besotted spleen!"
"And now these very horses are starving for want of hay, as a
judgment upon them!" said Job, who shuffled his way industriously at
the other's side.—"They had better have gone to meetin' themselves,
and heard the expounding, than to set dumb beasts a rioting in a place
that the Lord used to visit so often!"
"Tell me, boy, of what other act of folly and madness has the army
"What! hav'n't you heard of the old North! They've made oven-wood
of the grandest temple in the Bay! If they dared, they'd lay their
ungodly hands on old Funnel itself!"
Lionel made no reply. He had heard that the distresses of the
garrison, heightened as they were by the ceaseless activity of the
Americans, had compelled them to convert many houses, as well as the
church in question, into fuel. But he saw in the act nothing more than
the usual recourse of a common military exigency. It was free from
that reckless contempt of a people's feelings, which was exhibited in
the prostitution of the ancient walls of the sister edifice, which
was known throughout New-England, with a species of veneration, as the
"old South." He continued his way gloomily along the silent streets,
until he reached the more favoured temple, in which the ritual of the
English church was observed, and whose roof was rendered doubly
sacred, in the eyes of the garrison, by the accidental circumstance of
bearing the title of their earthly monarch.
"Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down!"
Major Lincoln found the King's Chapel differing in every particular
from the venerable, but prostituted building he had just quitted. As
he entered, the light of his lantern played over the rich scarlet
covering of many a pew, and glanced upon the glittering ornaments of
the polished organ, which now slumbered in as chilled a silence, as
the dead which lay in such multitudes within and without the massive
walls. The laboured columns, with their slender shafts and fretted
capitals, threw shapeless shadows across the dim background, peopling
the galleries and ceiling with imaginary phantoms of thin air. As this
slight delusion passed away, he became sensible of the change in the
temperature. The warmth was not yet dissipated which had been
maintained during the different services of the day; for
notwithstanding the wants of the town and garrison, the favoured
temple, where the representative of the sovereign was wont to worship,
knew not the ordinary privations of the place. Job was directed to
supply the dying embers of the stoves with fresh fuel, and as the
simpleton well knew where to find the stores of the church, his
office was performed with an alacrity that was not a little increased
by his own sufferings.
When the bustle of preparation had subsided, Lionel drew a chair
from the chancel, while Job crouched by the side of the quivering iron
he had heated, in that attitude he was wont to assume, and which so
touchingly expressed the secret consciousness he felt of his own
inferiority. As the grateful warmth diffused itself over the halfnaked
frame of the simpleton, his head sunk upon his bosom, and he was fast
falling into a slumber, like a worried hound that had at length found
ease and shelter. A more active mind would have wished to learn the
reasons that could induce his companion to seek such an asylum at
that unseasonable hour. But Job was a stranger to curiosity; nor did
the occasional glimmerings of his mind often extend beyond those holy
precepts which had been taught him with such care, before disease had
sapped his faculties, or those popular principles of the time, that
formed so essential a portion of the thoughts of every New-Englandman.
Not so with Major Lincoln. His watch told him that many weary
minutes must elapse before he could expect to receive his bride, and
he disposed himself to wait with as much patience as comported with
five-and-twenty, and the circumstances. In a short time the stillness
of the chapel was restored, interrupted only by the passing gusts of
the wind without, and the dull roaring of the furnace by whose side
Job slumbered in a state of happy oblivion.
Lionel endeavoured to still his truant thoughts, and bring them in
training for the solemn ceremony in which he was soon to be an actor.
Finding the task too difficult, he arose, and approaching a window,
looked outupon the solitude, and the whirlwinds of snow that drifted
through the streets, eagerly listening for those sounds of approach
which his reason told him he ought not yet to expect. Again he seated
himself, and turned his eyes inquiringly about him, with a sort of
inward apprehension that some one lay concealed, in the surrounding
gloom, with a secret design to mar his approaching happiness. There
was so much of wild and feverish romance in the incidents of the day,
that he found it difficult, at moments, to credit their reality, and
had recourse to hasty glances at the altar, his attire, and even his
insensible companion, to remove the delusion from his mind. Again he
looked upward at the unsteady and huge shadows which wavered along
the ceiling and the walls, and his former apprehensions of some
hidden evil were revived with a vividness that amounted nearly to a
presentiment. So uneasy did he become at length, under this
impression, that he walked along the more distant aisles, scrupulously
looking into the dark pews, and throwing a scrutinizing glance behind
each column, and was rewarded for his trouble, by hearing the hollow
echoes of his own footsteps.
In returning from this round he approached the stove, and yielded
to a strong desire of listening to the voice of even Job, in a moment
of such morbid excitement. Touching the simpleton lightly with his
foot, the other awoke with that readiness which denoted the sudden and
disturbed nature of his ordinary rest.
"You are unusually dull to-night, Job," said Lionel, endeavouring
to hush his uneasiness in affected pleasantry, "or you would inquire
the reason why I pay my visit to the chruch at this extraordinary
"Boston folks love their meetin'us's," returned the obtuse
"Ay! but they love their beds, too, fellow; and one-half of them
are now enjoying what you seem to covet so much."
"Job loves to eat, and to be warm!"
"And to sleep too, if one may judge by your drowsiness."
"Yes, sleep is sweet; Job don't feel a-hungered when he's sleeping."
Lionel remained silent, for several moments, under a keen
perception of the suffering exhibited in the touching helplessness,
which marked the manner of the other, before he continued—
"But I expect to be joined, soon, by the clergyman, and some
ladies, and captain Polwarth."
"Job likes captain Polwarth—he keeps a grand sight of provisions!"
"Enough of this! can you think of nothing but your stomach, boy?"
"God made hunger," said Job, gloomily, "and he made food, too; but
the king keeps it all for his rake-hellies!"
"Well, listen, and be attentive to what I tell you.—One of the
ladies who will come here, is Miss Dynevor; you know Miss Dynevor,
Job? the beautiful Miss Dynevor!"
The charms of Cecil had not, however, made their wonted impression
on the dull eye of the idiot, who still regarded the speaker with his
customary air of apathy.
"Surely, Job, you know Miss Dynevor!" repeated Lionel, with an
irritability that, at any other time, he would have been the first to
smile at—"she has often given you money and clothes."
"Yes; Ma'am Lechmere is her grandam!"
This was certainly one of the least recommendations his mistress
possessed, in the eyes of Lionel, who paused a moment, with inward
vexation, before he added—
"Let who will be her relatives, she is this night to become my
wife. You will remain and witness the ceremony, and then you will
extinguish the lights, and return the key of the church to Dr.
Liturgy. In the morning come to me for your reward."
The changeling arose, with an air of singular importance, and
"To be sure. Major Lincoln is to be married, and he asks Job to the
wedding! Now, Nab may preach her sarmons about pride and flaunty
feelings as much as she will; but blood is blood, and flesh is flesh,
for all her sayings!"
Struck by the expression of wild meaning that gleamed in the eyes
of the simpleton, Major Lincoln demanded an explanation of his
ambiguous language. But ere Job had leisure to reply, though his
vacant look again denoted that his thoughts were already contracting
themselves within their usually narrow limits, a sudden noise drew
the attention of both to the entrance of the chapel. The door opened
in the next instant, and the figure of the divine, powdered with
drifted snow, and encased in various defences against the cold, was
seen, moving with a becoming gravity, through the principal aisle.
Lionel hastened to receive him, and to conduct him to the seat he had
just occupied himself.
When Dr. Liturgy had uncloaked, and appeared in his robes of
office, the benevolence of his smile, and the whole expression of his
countenance, denoted that he was satisfied with the condition in
which he found the preparations.
"There is no reason why a church should not be as comfortable as a
man's library, Major Lincoln," he said, hitching his seat a little
nearer to the stove. "It is a puritanical and a dissenting idea, that
religion has any thing forbidding or gloomy in its nature; and
wherefore should we assemble amid pains and inconvenience to
discharge its sacred offices."
"Quite true, sir," returned Lionel, looking anxiously through one
of the windows—"I have not yet heard the hour of ten strike, though
my watch tells me it is time!"
"The weather renders the public clocks very irregular. There are so
many unavoidable evils to which flesh is heir, that we should
endeavour to be happy on all occasions—indeed it is a duty—"
"It's not in the natur of sin to make fallen man happy," said a
low, growling voice from behind the stove.
"Ha! what! did you speak, Major Lincoln— a very singular
sentiment for a bridegroom!" muttered the divine.
"'Tis that weak young man, whom I have brought hither to assist
with the fires, repeating some of the lore of his mother; nothing
By this time Dr. Liturgy had caught a glimpse of the crouching Job,
and comprehending the interruption, he fell back in his chair, smiling
superciliously, as he continued—
"I know the lad, sir; I should know him. He is learned in the
texts, and somewhat given to disputation in matters of religion. 'Tis
a pity the little intellect he has, had not been better managed in
his infancy; but they have helped to crush his feeble mind with their
subtleties, We—I mean we of the established church—often style
him the Boston Calvin—ha, ha, ha!— Old Cotton was not his equal in
subtilty! but speaking of the establishment, do you not fancy that
one of the consequences of this rebellion will be to extend its
benefits to the colonies, and that we may look forward to the period
when the true church shall possess its inheritance in these religious
"Oh, most certainly," said Lionel, again walking anxiously to the
window; "would to God they had come!"
The divine, with whom weddings were matters of too frequent
occurrence to awaken his sympathies, understood the impatient
bridegroom literally, and replied accordingly.
"I am glad to hear you say it, Major Lincoln, and I hope when the
act of amnesty shall be passed, to find your vote on the side of such
At this instant Lionel caught a glimpse of the well-known sleigh,
moving slowly along the deserted street, and uttering a cry of
pleasure, he rushed to the door to receive his bride. Dr. Liturgy
finished his sentence to himself, and rising from his comfortable
position, he took the light and entered the chancel. The disposition
of the candles having been previously made, when they were lighted,
his book opened, his robes adjusted, and his features settled into a
suitable degree of solemnity, he stood, waiting with becoming dignity
the approach of those over whom he was to pronounce the nuptial
benediction. Job placed himself within the shadows of the building,
and stood regarding the attitude and imposing aspect of the priest,
with a species of childish awe.
Then came a group, emerging from the obscurity of the distant part
of the church, and moving slowly toward the altar. Cecil was in front,
leaning on that arm which Lionel had given her, as much for support,
as through courtesy. She had removed her outer and warmer garments in
the vestibule of the sacred edifice, and now appeared, attired in a
manner as well suited to the suddenness and privacy, as to the
importance of the ceremony. A mantle of satin, trimmed with delicate
furs, fell carelessly from her shoulders, partly concealing by its
folds the exquisite proportions of her slender form. Beneath was a
vestment of the same rich material, cut, after the fashions of that
period, in a manner to give the exact outlines of the bust. Across the
stomacher were deep rows of fine lace, and wide borders of the same
valuable texture followed the retiring edges of her robe, leaving the
costly dress within partly exposed to the eye. But the beauty and
simplicity of her attire (it was simple for that day) was lost, or,
rather, it served to adorn, unnoticed, the melancholy beauty of her
As they approached the expecting priest, Cecil threw, by a gentle
movement, her mantle on the rails of the chancel, and accompanied
Lionel, with a firmer tread than before, to the foot of the altar.
Her cheeks were pale; but it was rather with a compelled resolution
than dread, while her eyes were full of tenderness and thought: Of the
two devotees of Hymen, she exhibited, if not the most composure,
certainly the most singleness of purpose and intentness on the duty
before them; for while the looks of Lionel were stealing uneasily
about the building, as if he expected some hidden object to start up
out of the darkness, her's were riveted on the priest in sweet and
They paused in their alloted places; and after a moment was allowed
for Agnes and Polwarth, who alone followed, to enter the chancel, the
low but deep tones of the minister were heard in the solemn stillness
of the place.
Dr. Liturgy had borrowed a suitable degree of inspiration from the
dreariness of the hour, and the solitude of the building where he was
required to discharge his sacred functions. As he delivered the
opening exhortation of the service, he made long and frequent pauses
between the members of the sentences, giving to each injunction a
distinct and impressive emphasis. But when he came to those closing
"If any man can show just cause why they may not be lawfully
joined together let him now speak, or else, hereafter, for ever hold
He lifted his voice, and raised his eyes to the more distant parts
of the chapel, as though he addressed a multitude in the gloom. The
faces of all present involuntarily followed the direction of his
gaze, and a moment of deep expectation, which can only be explained by
the singularly wild character of the scene, succeeded the
reverberation of his tones. At that moment, when each had taken
breath, and all were again turning to the altar, a huge shadow rose
upon the gallery, and extended itself along the ceiling, until its
gigantic proportions were seen hovering, like an evil spectre, nearly
The clergyman suspended the half-uttered sentence. Cecil grasped
the arm of Lionel convulsively, while a shudder passed through her
frame, that seemed about to shake it to dissolution.
The shadowy image then slowly withdrew, not without, however,
throwing out a fantastic gesture, with an arm which stretched itself
across the vaulted roof, and down the walls as if about to clutch its
"If any man can show just cause why they may not be lawfully
joined together, let him now speak, or else, hereafter, for ever hold
his peace," repeated the priest aloud, as if he would summon the
universe at the challenge.
Again the shadow rose, presenting this time the strong and huge
lineaments of a human face, which it was not difficult, at such a
moment, to fancy possessed even expression and life. Its strongly
marked features seemed to work with powerful emotion, and the lips
moved as if the airy being was speaking to unearthly ears. Next came
two arms, raised above the gazing group, with clasped hands, as in the
act of benediction, after which the whole vanished, leaving the
ceiling in its own dull white, and the building still as the graves
which surrounded it.
Once more the excited minister uttered the summons; and again every
eye was drawn, by a secret impulse, to a spot which seemed to possess
the form without the substance of a human being. But the shadow was
seen no more. After waiting several moments in vain, Dr. Liturgy
proceeded, with a voice in which a growing tremor was very
perceptible, but no further interruption was experienced to the end of
Cecil pronounced her vows, and plighted her troth in tones of holy
emotion, while Lionel, who was prepared for some strange calamity,
went through the service to the end with a forced calmness. They were
married; and when the blessing was uttered, not a sound nor a whisper
was heard in the party. Silently they all turned away from the spot,
and prepared to leave the place. Cecil stood passively, and permitted
Lionel to wrap her form in the folds of her mantle with tender care,
and when she would have smiled her thanks for the attention, she
merely raised her anxious eyes to the ceiling, with an expression
that could not be mistaken. Even Polwarth was mute; and Agnes forgot
to offer those congratulations and good-wishes with which her heart
had so recently been swelling.
The clergyman muttered a few words of caution to Job concerning the
candles and the fire, and hurried after the retiring party with a
quickness of step that he was willing to ascribe to the lateness of
the hour, and with a total disregard to the safety of the edifice;
leaving the chapel to the possession of the ill-gifted, but
undisturbed son of Abigail Pray.
"Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all;
"Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close;
"And let us all to meditation."
King Henry Vi.
The bridal party entered their little vehicle, silent and
thoughtful; the voice of Polwarth being alone audible as he gave a few
low and hurried orders to the groom who was in waiting. Dr. Liturgy
approached for a moment, and made his compliments, when the sleigh
darted away from before the building, as swiftly as if the horse that
drew it partook of the secret uneasiness of those it held. The
movements of the divine, though less rapid, were equally diligent, and
in less than a minute the winds whistled, and clouds of snow were
driven through a street, which every thing possessing life appeared
once more to have abandoned.
The instant Polwarth had discharged his load, at the door of Mrs.
Lechmere, he muttered something of "happiness and to-morrow," which
his friend did not understand, and dashed through the gate of the
court-yard, at the same mad rate that he had driven from the church.
On entering the house, Agnes repaired to the room of her aunt, to
report that the marriage knot was tied, while Lionel led his silent
bride into the empty parlour.
Cecil stood, fixed and motionless as a statue, while her husband
removed her cloak and mantle; her cheeks pale, her eyes riveted on the
floor, and her whole attitude and manner exhibiting the intensity of
thought which had been created by the scene in which she had just been
an actor. When he had relieved her light form from the load of
garments in which it had been enveloped by his care, he impelled her
gently to a seat by his side, on the settee, and for the first time
since she had uttered the final vow at the altar, she spoke—
"Was it a fearful omen!" she whispered, as he folded her to his
heart, "or was it no more than a horrid fancy!"
"'Twas nothing, love—'twas a shadow—that of Job Pray, who was
with me to light the fires."
"No—no—no," said Cecil, speaking with the rapidity of high
excitement, and in tones that gathered strength as she
proceeded—"Those were never the unmeaning features of the miserable
simpleton! Know, you, Lincoln, that in the haughty, the terrific
outlines of those dreadful lineaments on the wall, I fancied a
resemblance to the profile of our great uncle, your father's
predecessor in the title—Dark Sir Lionel, as he was called!"
"It was easy to fancy any thing, at such a time, and under such
circumstances. Do not cloud the happiness of our bridal by these
"Am I gloomy or superstitious by habit, Lionel?" she asked, with a
deprecating tenderness in her voice, that touched his inmost heart—
"but it came at such a moment, and in such a shape, that I should be
more than woman not to tremble at its terrible import!"
"What is it you dread, Cecil? Are we not married; lawfully,
solemnly united?" the bride shuddered; but perceiving her unwilling,
or unable to answer, he continued—"beyond the power of man to
sever; and with the consent, nay, by the earnest wish, the command of
the only being who can have a right to express a wish, or have an
opinion on the subject?"
"I believe—that is I think, it is all as you say, Lionel,"
returned Cecil, still looking about her with a vacant and distressed
air that curdled his blood; "yes—yes, we are certainly married; and
Oh! how ardently do I implore Him who sees and governs all things,
that our union may be blessed! but"—
"But what, Cecil? will you let a thing of naught—a shadow affect
you in this manner?"
"'Twas a shadow, as you say, Lincoln; but where was the substance!"
"Cecil, my sensible, my good, my pious Cecil, why do your faculties
slumber in this unaccountable apathy! Ask your own excellent reason:
can there be a shade where nothing obstructs the light?"
"I know not. I cannot reason—I have not reason. All things are
possible to Him whose will is law, and whose slightest wish shakes the
universe. There was a shadow, a dark, a speaking, and a terrible
shadow; but who can say where was the reality?"
"I had almost answered, with the phantom, only in your own
sensitive imagination, love. But arouse your slumbering powers, Cecil,
and reflect how possible it was for some curious idler of the
garrison to have watched my movements, and to have secreted himself in
the chapel; perhaps from wanton mischief—perhaps without motive of
"He then chose an awful moment in which to act his gambols!"
"It may have been one whose knowledge was just equal to giving a
theatrical effect to his silly deception. But are we to be cheated of
our happiness by such weak devices; or to be miserable because Boston
contains a fool!"
"I may be weak, and silly, and even impious in this terror,
Lincoln," she said, turning her softened looks upon his anxious face,
and attempting to smile; "but it is assailing a woman in a point
where she is most sensitive.— You know that I have no reserve with
you, now. Marriage with us is the tie that `binds all charities in
one,' and at the moment when the heart is full of its own security, is
it not dreadful to have such mysterious presages, be they true, or be
they false, answering to the awful appeal of the church!"
"Nor is the tie less binding, less important, or less dear, my own
Cecil, to us. Believe me, whatever the pride of manhood may say, of
high destinies, and glorious deeds, the same affections are deeply
seated in our nature, and must be soothed by those we love, and not by
those who contribute to our vanity. Why, then, permit this chill to
blight your best affections in their budding?"
There was so much that was soothing to the anxiety of a bride, in
his sentiments, and so much of tender interest in his manner, that he
at length succeeded, in a great degree, in luring Cecil from her
feverish apprehensions. As he spoke, a mantling bloom diffused itself
over her cold and pallid cheeks, and when he had done, her eyes
lighted with the glow of a woman's confidence, and were turned on his
own in bright, but blushing pleasure. She repeated his word `chill,'
with an emphasis and a smile that could not be misconstrued, and in a
few minutes he entirely succeeded in quelling the uneasy presentiments
that had gained a momentary ascendency over her clear and excellent
But notwithstanding Major Lincoln reasoned so well, and with so
much success, against the infirmity of his bride, he was by no means
equal to maintain as just an argument with himself. The morbid
sensibility of his mind had been awakened in a most alarming manner
by the occurrences of the evening, though his warm interest in the
happiness of Cecil had enabled him to smother them, so long as he
witnessed the extent and nature of her apprehensions. But, exactly in
the proportion as he persuaded her into forgetfulness of the past, his
recollections became more vivid and keen; and, notwithstanding his
art, he might not have been able to conceal the workings of his
troubled thoughts from his companion, had not Agnes appeared, and
announced the desire of Mrs. Lechmere to receive the bride and
bridegroom in her sick chamber.
"Come, Lincoln," said his lovely companion, rising at the summons,
"we have been selfish in forgetting how strongly my grandmother
sympathizes in our good or evil fortunes. We should have discharged
this duty without waiting to be reminded of it."
Without making any other reply than a fond pressure of the hand he
held, Lionel drew her arm through his own, and followed Agnes into
the little hall which conducted to the upper part of the dwelling.
"You know the way, Major Lincoln," said Miss Danforth; "and should
you not, my lady bride can show you. I must go and cast a worldly eye
on the little banquet I have ordered, but which I fear will be labour
thrown away, since captain Polwarth has disdained to exhibit his
prowess at the board. Truly, Major Lincoln, I marvel that a man of so
much substance as your friend, should be frightened from his stomach
by a shadow!"
Cecil even laughed, and in those sweet feminine tones that are
infectious, at the humour of her cousin; but the dark and anxious
expression that gathered round the brow of her husband as suddenly
checked her mirth.
"Let us ascend, Lincoln," she said, instantly, "and leave mad Agnes
to her household cares, and her folly."
"Ay, go," cried the other, turning away towards the
supper-room—"eating and drinking is not etherial enough for your
elevated happiness; would I had a repast worthy of such sentimental
enjoyment! Let me see—dew drops and lovers tears, in equal
quantities, sweetened by Cupid's smiles, with a dish of sighs, drawn
by moon-light, for piquancy, as Polwarth would say, would flavour a
bowl to their tastes. The dewdrops might be difficult to procure, at
this inclement season, and in such a night; but if sighs and tears
would serve alone, poor Boston is just now rich enough in materials!"
Lionel, and his half-blushing, half-smiling companion, heard the
dying sounds of her voice, as she entered the distant apartment,
expressing, by its tones, the mingled pleasantry and spleen of its
mistress, and in the next instant they forgot both Agnes and her
humour, as they found themselves in the presence of Mrs. Lechmere.
The first glance of his eye at their expecting relative, brought a
painful throb to the heart of Major Lincoln. Mrs. Lechmere had caused
herself to be raised in her bed, in which she was seated nearly
upright, supported by pillows. Her wrinkled and emaciated cheeks were
flushed with an unnatural colour, that contrasted too violently with
the marks which age and strong passions had impressed, with their
indelible fingers, on the surrounding wreck of those haughty
features, which had once been distinguished for great, if not
attractive beauty. Her hard eyes had lost their ordinary expression of
worldly care, in a brightness which caused them rather to glare than
beam, with flashes of unbridled satisfaction that could no longer be
repressed. In short, her whole appearance brought a startling
conviction to the mind of the young man, that whatever might have
been the ardour of his own feelings in espousing her grand-child, he
had at length realized the fondest desires of a being so worldly, so
designing, and, as he was now made keenly to remember, of one, also,
who he had much reason to apprehend, was so guilty. The invalid did
not seem to think a concealment of her exultation any longer
necessary, for stretching out her arms, she called to her child, in a
voice raised above its natural tones, and which was dissonant and
harsh from a sort of unholy triumph—
"Come to my arms, my pride, my hope, my dutiful, my deserving
daughter! Come and receive a parent's blessing; that blessing which
you so much deserve!"
Even Cecil, warm and consoling as was the language of her
grand-mother, hesitated an instant at the unnatural voice in which the
summons was uttered, and advanced to meet her embrace with a manner
less warm than was usual to her own ardent and unsuspecting nature.
This secret restraint existed, however, but for a moment; for when
she felt the encircling arms of Mrs. Lechmere pressing her warmly to
her aged bosom, she looked up into the face of her grandmother, as if
to thank her for so much affection, by her own guileless smiles and
"Here, then, Major Lincoln, you possess my greatest, I had almost
said my only treasure!" added Mrs. Lechmere—"she is a good, a
gentle, and dutiful child; and heaven will bless her for it, as I do."
Leaning forward, she continued, in a less excited voice—"Kiss me, my
Cecil, my bride, my Lady Lincoln! for by that loved title I may now
call you, as yours, in the course of nature, it soon will be."
Cecil, greatly shocked at the unguarded exultation of her
grandmother, gently withdrew herself from her arms, and with eyes bent
to the floor in shame, and burning cheeks, she willingly moved aside
to allow Lionel to approach, and receive his share of the
congratulations. He stooped to bestow the cold and reluctant kiss,
which the offered cheek of Mrs. Lechmere invited, and muttered a few
incoherent words concerning his present happiness, and the obligation
she had conferred. Notwithstanding the high and disgusting triumph
which had broken through the usually cold and cautious manner of the
invalid, a powerful and unbidden touch of nature mingled in her
address to the bridegroom. The fiery and unnatural glow of her eyes
even softened with a tear, as she spoke—
"Lionel, my nephew, my son," she said— "I have endeavoured to
receive you in a manner worthy of the head of an ancient and
honourable name; but were you a sovereign prince, I have now done my
last and best in your favour!— Cherish her—love her—be more than
husband—be all of kin to the precious child, for she merits all!
Now is my latest wish fulfilled!— Now may I prepare myself for the
last great change, in the quiet of a long and tranquil evening to the
weary and troublesome day of life!"
"Woman!" said a tremendous voice in the back ground—"thou
"Who," exclaimed Mrs. Lechmere, raising her body with a convulsive
start, as if about to leap from the bed—"who is it speaks!"
"'Tis I"—returned the well remembered tones of Ralph, as he
advanced from the door to the foot of her couch—"'Tis I, Priscilla
Lechmere; one who knows thy merits and thy doom!"
The appalled woman fell back on her pillows, gasping for breath,
the flush of her cheeks giving place to their former signs of age and
disease, and her eye losing its high exultation in the glazed look of
sudden terror. It would seem, however, that a single moment of
reflection was sufficient to restore her spirit, and with it, all her
deep resentments. She motioned the intruder away, by a violent gesture
of the hand, and after an effort to command her utterance, she said,
in a voice rendered doubly strong by overwhelming passion—
"Why am I braved, at such a moment, in the privacy of my sick
chamber! Have that madman, or impostor, whichever he may be, removed
from my presence!"
She uttered her request to deadened ears. Lionel neither moved nor
answered. His whole attention was given to Ralph, across whose hollow
features a smile of calm indifference passed, which denoted how little
he regarded the threatened violence. Even Cecil, who clung to the arm
of Lionel, with all a woman's dependance on him she loved, was
unnoticed by the latter, in the absorbing interest he took in the
sudden reappearance of one whose singular and mysterious character
had, long since, raised such hopes and fears in his own bosom.
"Your doors will shortly be open to all who may choose to visit
here," the old man coldly answered; "why should I be driven from a
dwelling where heartless crowds shall so soon enter and depart at
will! Am I not old enough; or do I not bear enough of the aspect of
the grave to become your companion? Priscilla Lechmere, you have
lived till the bloom of your cheeks has given place to the colour of
the dead; your dimples have become furrowed and wrinkled lines; and
the beams of your once bright eye, have altered to the dull look of
care—but you have not yet lived for repentance!"
"What manner of language is this!" cried his wondering listener,
inwardly shrinking before his steady, but glowing look. "Why am I
singled from the world for this persecution? are my sins past
bearing; or am I alone to be reminded that sooner or later, age and
death will come!—I have long known the infirmities of life, and may
truly say that I am prepared for their final consequences."
"'Tis well," returned the unmoved and apparently immoevable
intruder—"take, then, and read the solemn decree of thy God; and may
He grant thee firmness to justify so much confidence."
As he spoke, he extended, in his withered hand, an open letter
towards Mrs. Lechmere, which the quick glance of Lionel told him bore
his own name in the superscription. Notwithstanding the gross
invasion of his rights, the young man was passive under the detection
of this second and gross interference of the other in his most secret
matters, watching with eager interest the effect the strange
communication would produce on his aunt.
Mrs. Lechmere took the letter from the stranger with a sort of
charmed submission, which denoted how completely his solemn manner had
bent her to his will. The instant her look fell on the contents, it
became fixed and wild. The note was, however, short, and the scrutiny
was soon ended. Still she grasped it with an extended arm, though the
vacant expression of her countenance betrayed that it was held before
an insensible eye. A moment of silent and breathless wonder followed.
It was succeeded by a shudder which passed through the whole frame of
the invalid, her limbs shaking violently, until the rattling of the
folds of the paper was audible in the most distant corner of the
"This bears my name," cried Lionel, shocked at her emotions, and
taking the paper from her unresisting hand, "and should first have met
"Aloud—aloud, dear Lionel," said a faint but earnest whisper at
his elbow; "aloud, I implore you, aloud!"
It was not, perhaps, so much in compliance with this affecting
appeal, in which the whole soul of Cecil seemed wrapped, as by
yielding to the overwhelming flow of that excitement to which he had
been aroused, that Major Lincoln was led to conform to her request. In
a voice rendered desperately calm by his emotions, he uttered the
fatal contents of the note, in tones so distinct, that they sounded to
his wife, in the stillness of the place, like the prophetic warnings
of one from the dead:
"The state of the town has prevented that close attention to the
case of Mrs. Lechmere, which her injuries rendered necessary. An
inward mortification has taken place, and her present ease is only
the forerunner of her death. I feel it my duty to say, that though she
may live many hours, it is not improbable that she will die to-night."
To this short, but terrible annunciation, was placed the well-known
signature of the attending physician. Here was a sudden change,
indeed! All had thought that the disease had given way, when it
seemed it had been preying insidiously on the vitals of the sick.
Dropping the note, Lionel exclaimed aloud, in the suddenness of his
"Die to night! This is an unexpected summons, indeed!"
The miserable woman, after the first nerveless moment of her
dismay, turned her looks anxiously from face to face, and listened
intently to the words of the note, as they fell from the lips of
Lionel, like one eager to detect the glimmerings of hope in the
alarmed expression of their countenances. But the language of her
physician was too plain, direct, and positive to be misunderstood or
perverted. Its very coldness gave it a terrific character of truth.
"Do you then credit it?" she asked in a voice whose husky tones
betrayed but too plainly her abject unwillingness to be assured. "You!
Lionel Lincoln, whom I had thought my friend!"
Lionel turned away silently from the sad spectacle of her misery;
but Cecil dropped on her knees at the bed-side, and clasping her
hands, she elevated them, looking like a beautiful picture of pious
hope, as she murmured—
"He is no friend, dearest grandmother, who would lay flattery to a
parting soul! But there is a better and a safer dependence than all
this world can offer!"
"And you, too!" cried the devoted woman, rousing herself with a
strength and energy that would seem to put the professional knowledge
of her medical attendant at defiance—"do you also abandon me! You
whom I have watched in infancy, nursed in suffering, fondled in
happiness, ay! and reared in virtue—yes, that I can say boldly in
the face of the universe! You, whom I have brought to this honourable
marriage; would you repay me for all, by black ingratitude!"
"My grandmother! my grandmother! talk not thus cruelly to your
child! But lean on the rock of ages for support, even as I have
leaned on thee!"
"Away—away—weak, foolish child! Excess of happiness has
maddened thee! Come hither, my son; let us speak of Ravenscliffe, the
proud seat of our ancestors; and of those days we are yet to pass
under its hospitable roofs. The silly girl thou hast wived would wish
to frighten me!"
Lionel shuddered with inward horror while he listened to the forced
and broken intonations of her voice, as she thus uttered the lingering
wishes of her nature. He turned again from the view, and, for a
moment, buried his face in his hands, as if to exclude the world and
its wickedness, together, from his sight.
"My grandmother, look not so wildly at us!" continued the gasping
Cecil—"yon may have yet hours, nay, days before you." She paused an
instant to follow the unsettled and hopeless gaze of an eye that
gleamed despairingly on the objects of the room, and then, with a
meek dependence on her own purity, dropping her face between her
hands, she cried aloud in her agony—
"My mother's mother! Would that I could die for thee!"
"Die!" echoed the same dissonant voice as before, from a throat
that already began to rattle with the hastened approaches of death—
"who would die amid the festivities of a bridal!— Away—leave
me.—To thy closet, and thy knees, if thou wilt—but leave me."
She watched, with bitter resentment, the retiring form of Cecil,
who obeyed with the charitable and pious intention of complying
literally with her grandmother's order, before she added—
"The girl is not equal to the task I had set her! All of my race
have been weak, but I— my daughter—my husband's niece"—
"What of that niece!" said the startling voice of Ralph,
interrupting the diseased wanderings of her mind—"that wife of thy
nephew—the mother of this youth? Speak, woman, while time and
reason are granted thee."
Lionel now advanced to her bed-side, under an impulse that he could
no longer subdue, and addressed her solemnly—
"If thou knowest aught of the dreadful calamity that has befallen
my family," he said, "or in any manner hast been accessary to its
cause, disburthen thy soul, and die in peace. Sister of my
grandfather! nay, more, mother of my wife! I conjure thee,
speak—what of my injured mother?"
"Sister of thy grandfather—mother of thy wife," repeated Mrs.
Lechmere, slowly, and in a manner that sufficiently indicated the
unsettled state of her thoughts—"Yes, both are true!"
"Speak to me, then, of my mother, if you acknowledge the ties of
blood—tell me of her dark fate?"
"She is in her grave—dead—rotten—yes— yes—her boasted
beauty has been fed upon by beastly worms! What more would ye have,
mad boy? Would'st wish to see her bones in their winding-sheet?"
"The truth!" cried Ralph; "declare the truth, and thy own wicked
agency in the deed."
"Who speaks?" repeated Mrs. Lechmere, dropping her voice from its
notes of high excitement again, to the tremulous cadency of debility
and age, and looking about her at the same time, as if a sudden
remembrance had crossed her brain; "surely I heard sounds I should
"Here; look on me—fix thy wandering eye, if it yet has power to
see, on me," cried Ralph, aloud, as though he would command her
attention at every hazard—"'tis I that speaks to thee, Priscilla
"What wouldst thou have? My daughter? she is in her grave! Her
child? She is wedded to another—Thou art too late! Thou art too
late! Would to God thou hadst asked her of me in season"—
"The truth—the truth—the truth!" continued the old man, in a
voice that rung through the apartment in wild and startling
echoes—"the holy and undefiled truth! Give us that, and naught
This singular and solemn appeal awakened the latest energies of the
despairing woman, whose inmost soul appeared to recoil before his
cries. She made an effort to raise herself once more, and exclaimed—
"Who says that I am dying? I am but seventy! and 'tis only
yesterday I was a child— a pure, an uncontaminated child! He
lies—he lies! I have no mortification—I am strong, and have years
to live and repent in."
In the pauses of her utterance, the voice of the old man was still
"The truth—the truth—the holy, undefiled truth!"
"Let me rise and look upon the sun," continued the dying woman.
"Where are ye all? Cecil, Lionel—my children, do ye desert me now?
Why do ye darken the room? Give me light— more light!—more light!
for the sake of all in heaven and earth, abandon me not to this black
and terrific darkness!"
Her aspect had become so hideously despairing, that the voice of
even Ralph was stilled, and she continued uninterruptedly to shriek
out the ravings of her soul.
"Why talk to such as I of death!—My time has been too
short!—Give me days—give me hours—give me moments! Cecil,
Agnes—Abigail; where are ye—help me, or I fall!"
She raised herself, by a desperate effort, from the pillows, and
clutched wildly at the empty air. Meeting the extended hand of Lionel,
she caught it with a dying grasp, gave a ghastly smile, under the
false security it imparted, and falling backward again, her mortal
part settled, with an universal shudder, into a state of eternal rest.
As the horrid exclamations of the deceased ended, so deep a
stillness succeeded in the apartment, that the passing gusts of the
gale were heard sighing among the roofs of the town, and might easily
be mistaken, at such a moment, for the moanings of unembodied spirits
over so accursed an end.
"I wonder, sir, since wives are monstrous to you,
"And that you fly them, as you swear them, lordship,
"Yet, you desire to marry."
All's Well that Ends Well.
Cecil had left the room of her grandmother, with the consciousness
of sustaining a load of anguish to which her young experience had
hitherto left her a stranger. On her knees, and in the privacy of her
closet, she poured out the aspirations of her pure spirit, in fervent
petitions to that power, which she who most needed its support, had
so long braved by the mockery of respect, and the seemliness of
devotion. With her soul elevated by its recent communion with her
God, and her feelings soothed even to calmness by the sacred glow that
was shed around them, the youthful bride at length prepared to resume
her post at the bed-side of her aged relative.
In passing from her own room to that of Mrs. Lechmere, she heard
the busy voice of Agnes below, together with the sounds of the
preparations that were making to grace her own hasty bridal, and for
a moment she paused to assure herself that all which had so recently
passed was more than the workings of a disturbed fancy. She gazed at
the unusual, though modest ornaments of her attire; shuddered as she
remembered the awful omen of the shadow, and then came to the dreadful
reality with an overwhelming conviction of its truth. After laying
her hand on the door, she paused with secret terror, to catch the
sounds that might issue from the chamber of the sick. After listening
a moment, the bustle below was hushed, and she, too, heard the
whistling of the wind as its echoes died away among the chimneys and
angles of the building. Encouraged by the deathlike stillness of
those within her grandmother's room. Cecil now opened the door, under
the pleasing impression that she should find the resignation of a
Christian, where she had so lately witnessed the incipient ravings of
despair. Her entrance was timid, for she dreaded to meet the hollow,
but glaring eye of the nameless being who had borne the message of
the physician and of whose mien and language she retained a confused
but fearful recollection. Her hesitation and her fears, were, however,
alike vain; for the room was silent and tenantless. Casting one
wondering look around, in quest of the form most dear to her, Cecil
advanced with a light step to the bed, and raising the coverlid,
discovered the fatal truth at a glance.
The lineaments of Mrs. Lechmere had already stiffened, and assumed
that cadaverous and ghastly expression which marks the touch of death.
The parting soul had left the impression of its agony on her
features, exhibiting the wreck of those passions which caused her,
even in death, to look backward on that world she was leaving for
ever, instead of forward to the unknown existence, towards which she
was hurried. Perhaps the suddenness and the very weight of the shock,
sustained the cheerless bride in that moment of trial. She neither
spoke nor moved for more than a minute; but remained with her eyes
riveted on the desolation of that countenance she had revered from her
infancy, with a species of holy awe that was not entirely free from
horror. Then came the recollection of the portentous omens of her
wedding, and with it a dread that the heaviest of her misfortunes
were yet in reserve. She dropped the covering on the pallid features
of the dead, and quitted the apartment with a hurried step. The room
of Lionel was on the same floor with that which she had just left, and
before she had time for reflection, her hand was on its lock. Her
brain was bewildered with the rush of circumstances. For a single
instant she paused with maiden bashfulness, even recoiling in
sensitive shame from the act she was about to commit, when all her
fears, mingled with glimmerings of the truth, flashed again across
her mind, and she burst into the room, uttering the name of him she
The brands of a fallen fire had been carefully raked together, and
were burning with a feeble and wavering flame. The room seemed filled
with a cold air, which, as she encountered it, chilled the delicate
person of Cecil; and flickering shadows were playing on the walls,
with the uncertain movements imparted by the unsteady light. But,
like the apartment of the dead, the room was still and empty.
Perceiving that the door of the little dressing-room was open, she
rushed to its threshold, and the mystery of the cold air and the
wavering fire was explained, when she felt the gusts of wind rush by
her from the open door at the foot of the narrow stairs. If Cecil had
ever been required to explain the feelings which induced her to
descend, or the manner in which it was effected, she would have been
unable to comply, for quick as thought she stood on the threshold of
the outer-door, nearly unconscious of her situation.
The moon was still wading among the driving clouds, shedding just
light enough to make the spectator sensible of the stillness of the
camp and town. The easterly wind yet howled along the streets,
occasionally lifting whirlwinds of snow, and wrapping whole squares in
its dim wreaths. But neither man nor beast was visible amid the
The bewildered bride shrunk from the dismal view, with a keen
perception of its wild consonance with the death of her grandmother.
In another moment she was again in the room above, each part of which
was examined with maddening anxiety for the person of her husband.
But her powers, excited and unnatural as they had become, could
support her no longer. She was forced to yield to the impression that
Lionel had deserted her in the most trying moment, and it was not
strange that she coupled the sinister omens of the night with his
mysterious absence. The heart-stricken girl clasped her hands in
anguish, and shrieking the name of her cousin, sunk on the floor in
Agnes was busily and happily employed with her domestics, in
preparing such a display of the wealth of the Lechmeres as should not
disgrace her cousin in the eyes of her more wealthy lord and master.
The piercing cry, however, notwithstanding the bustle of hurrying
servants, and the clatter of knives and plates, penetrated to the
supper-room, stilling each movement, and blanching every cheek.
" 'Tis my name!" said Agnes; "who is it calls?"
"If it was
possible," returned Meriton, with a suitable
emphasis, "that Master Lionel's bride could scream so, I should
say it was my Lady's voice!"
" 'Tis Cecil—'tis Cecil!" cried Agnes, darting from the room; "O,
I feared—I feared these hasty nuptials!"
There was a general rush of the menials into the chambers, when the
fatal truth became immediately known to the whole family. The
lifeless clay of Mrs. Lechmere was discovered in its ghastly
deformity, and, to all but Agnes, it afforded a sufficient solution of
the situation of the bride.
More than an hour passed before the utmost care of her attendants
succeeded in restoring Cecil to a state in which questions might
avail any thing. Then her cousin took advantage of the temporary
absence of her women, to mention the name of her husband. Cecil heard
her with sudden joy; but looking about the room wildly, as if seeking
him with her eyes, she pressed her hands upon her heart, and fell
backward in that state of insensibility from which she had just been
roused. No part of this expressive evidence of her grief was lost on
the other, who left the room the instant her care had succeeded in
bringing the sufferer once more to her recollection.
Agnes Danforth had never regarded her aunt with that confiding
veneration and love which purified the affections of the granddaughter
of the deceased. She had always possessed her more immediate
relatives, from whom she derived her feelings and opinions, nor was
she wanting in sufficient discernment to distinguish the cold and
selfish traits that had so particularly marked the character of Mrs.
Lechmere. She had therefore, consented to mortify her own spirit, and
submit to the privations and dangers of the siege, entirely from a
disinterested attachment to her cousin, who, without her presence,
would have found her solitude and situation irksome.
In consequence of this disposition of her mind, Agnes was more
shocked than distressed by the unexpected death that had occurred.
Perhaps, if her anxiety had been less roused in behalf of Cecil, she
might have retired to weep over the departure of one she had known so
long, and of one, also, that, in the sincerity of her heart, she
believed so little prepared for the mighty change. As it was,
however, she took her way calmly to to the parlour, where she summoned
Meriton to her presence.
When the valet made his entrance, she assumed the appearance of a
composure that was far from her feelings, and desired him to seek his
master, with a request he would give Miss Danforth a short interview,
without delay. During the time Meriton was absent on this errand,
Agnes endeavoured to collect her thoughts for any emergency.
Minute passed after minute, however, and the valet did not return.
She arose, and stepping lightly to the door, listened, and thought she
heard his footsteps moving about in the more distant parts of the
building, with a quickness that proved he conducted the search in good
faith. At length she heard them nigher, and it was soon certain he
was on his return. Agnes seated herself as before, and with an air
that seemed as if she expected to receive the master instead of the
man. Meriton, however, returned alone.
"Major Lincoln!" she said; "you desired him to meet me here?"
The whole countenance of Meriton expressed his amazement, as he
"Lord! Miss Agnus; Master Lionel has gone out! gone out on
a night! and what is more remarkable, he has gone out without his
mourning; though the dead of his own blood and connexions lies
unburied in the house!"
Agnes preserved her composure, and gladly led the valet on in the
path his thoughts had taken, in order to come at the truth, without
betraying her own apprehensions.
"How know you, Mr. Meriton, that your master has been so far
forgetful of appearances?"
"As certain, Ma'am, as I know that he wore his parade uniform this
evening when he left the house the first time; though little did I
dream his honour was going to get married! If he hasn't gone out in
the same dress, where is it?— Besides, Ma'am, his last mourning is
under lock, and here is the key in my pocket."
" 'Tis singular he should choose such an hour, as well as the time
of his marriage, to absent himself!"
Meriton had long learned to identify all his interests with those
of his master, and he coloured highly under the oblique imputation
that he thought was no less cast on Lionel's gallantry, than on his
sense of propriety in general.
"Why, Miss Agnus, you will please remember, Ma'am," he answered,
"as this wedding hasn't been at all like an English wedding—nor can
I say that it is altogether usual to die in England as suddenly as
Ma'am Lechmere has been pleased"—
"Perhaps," interrupted Agnes, "some accident may have happened to
him. Surely no man of common humanity would willingly be away at such
The feelings of Meriton now took another direction, and he
unhesitatingly adopted the worst apprehensions of the young lady.
Agnes leaned her forehead on her hand, for a minute, in deep
reflection, before she spoke again. Then raising her eyes to the
valet, she said—
"Mr. Meriton, know you where captain Polwarth sleeps?"
"Certainly, Ma'am! He's a gentleman as always sleeps in his own
bed, unless the king's service calls him elsewhere. A considerate
gentleman is captain Polwarth, Ma'am, in respect of himself!"
Miss Danforth bit her lip, and her playful eye lighted for an
instant, with a ray that banished its look of sadness; but in another
moment her features became demure, if not melancholy, and she
"I believe, then—'tis awkward and distressing, too, but nothing
better can be done!"
"Did you please to give me any orders, Miss Agnus?"
"Yes, Meriton; you will go to the lodgings of captain Polwarth, and
tell him Mrs. Lincoln desires his immediate presence here, in
"My Lady!" repeated the amazed valet— "why, Miss Agnus, the women
says as my Lady is unconscionable, and does not know what is doing,
or who speaks to her! A mournful wedding, Ma'am, for the heir of our
"Then, tell him," said Agnes, as she arose to leave the room, "that
Miss Danforth would be glad to see him."
Meriton waited no longer than was necessary to mutter his
approbation of this alteration in the message, when he left the house,
with a pace that was a good deal quickened by his growing fears on
the subject of his master's safety. Notwithstanding his apprehensions,
the valet was by no means insensible to the severity of the climate
he was in, nor to the peculiar qualities of that night in which he was
so unexpectedly thrust abroad to encounter its fury. He soon
succeeded, however, in making his way to the quarters of Polwarth, in
the midst of the driving snow, and in defiance of the cold that
chilled his very bones. Happily for the patience of the worthy valet,
Shearflint, the semi-military attendant of the captain, was yet up,
having just discharged his nightly duties about the person of his
master, who had not deemed it prudent to seek his pillow without
proving the consolations of the trencher. The door was opened at the
first tap of Meriton, and when the other had expressed his surprise,
by the usual exclamations, the two attendants adjourned to the
sitting-room, where the embers of a good wood fire were yet shedding
a grateful heat in the apartment.
"What a shocking country is this America for cold, Mr. Shearflint,"
said Meriton, kicking the brands together with his boot, and rubbing
his hands over the coals—"I doesn't think as our English cold is at
all like it. It's a stronger and a better cold is ours, but it doesn't
cut one like dull razors, as this here of America."
Shearflint, who fancied himself particularly liberal, and ever made
it a point to show his magnanimity to his enemies, never speaking of
the colonists without a sort of protecting air, that he intended
should reflect largely on his own candour, briskly replied—
"This is a new country, Mr. Meriton, and one shouldn't be
over-nice. When one goes abroad one must learn to put up with
difficulties; especially in the colonies, where it can't be expected
all things should be as comfortable as we has 'em at 'ome."
"Well, now, I call myself as little particular in respect of
weather," returned Meriton, "as any going. But give me England for
climate, if for nothing else. The water comes down in that blessed
country in good, honest drops, and not in little frozen bits, which
prick one's face like so many fine needles!"
"You do look, Mr. Meriton, a little as if you had been shaking your
master's powder-puff about your own ears. But I was just finishing
the heel-tap of the captain's hot toddy; perhaps if you was to taste
it, 'twould help to thaw out the idears."
"God bless me! Shearflint," said Meriton, relinquishing his grasp
of the tankard, to take breath after a most vigorous draught—"do you
always stuff his night-cap so thick?"
"No—no—the captain can tell a mixture by his nose, and it
doesn't do to make partial alterations in his glass," returned
Shearflint, giving the tankard a circular motion to stir its
contents, while he spoke, and swallowing the trifle that remained,
apparently at a gulp; "then as I thinks it a pity that any thing
should be wasted in these distressing times, I generally drinks
what's left, after adding sum'at to the water, just to mellow it down.
But what brings you abroad such a foul night, Mr. Meriton?"
"Sure enough, my idears wanted thawing, as you instigated,
Shearflint! Here have I been sent on a message of life and death, and
I was forgetting my errand like a raw boy just hired from the
"Something is stirring, then!" said the other, offering a chair,
which his companion received, without any words, while Polwarth's man
took another, with equal composure. "I thought as much, from the
captain's hungry appearance, when he came home to night, after
dressing himself with so much care, to take his supper in
"Something has been stirring, indeed! For one thing, it is certain,
Master Lionel was married to-night, in the King's Chapel!"
"Married!" echoed the other—"well, thank heaven, no such
unavoidables has befallen us, though we have been amputrated. I
couldn't live with a married gentleman, no how, Mr. Meriton. A master
in breeches is enough for me, without one in petticoats to set him on!"
"That depends altogether on people's conditions, Shearflint,"
returned Meriton, with a sort of condescending air of condolence, as
though he pitied the other's poverty.—"It would be great folly for
a captain of foot, that is nothing but a captain of foot, to
unite in hymen. But, as we say at Ravenscliffe and Soho, Cupid will
listen to the siyths of the heir of a Devonshire Baronet, with
fifteen thousand a year."
"I never heard any one say it was more than ten," interrupted the
other, with a strong taint of ill-humour in his manner.
"Not more than ten! I can count ten myself, and I am sure there
must be some that I doesn't know of."
"Well, if it be twenty," cried Shearflint, rising and kicking the
brands among the ashes, in a manner to destroy all the cheerfulness of
the little fire that remained, "it wont help you to do your errand.
You should remember that us servants of poor captains have nobody to
help us with our work, and want our natural rest. What's your
pleasure, Mr. Meriton?"
"To see your master, Mister Shearflint."
"That's impossibility! he's under five blankets, and I wouldn't
lift the thinnest of them for a month's wages."
"Then I shall do it for you, because speak to him I must. Is he in
"Ay, you'll find him somewhere there, among the bed-clothes,"
returned Shearflint, throwing open the door of an adjoining apartment,
secretly hoping Meriton would get his head broke for his trouble, as
he removed himself out of harm's way, by returning to the fire-place.
Meriton was compelled to give the captain several rough shakes
before he succeeded in rousing him, in the least, from his deep
slumbers. Then, indeed, he overheard the sleeper muttering—
"A damn foolish business, that—had we made proper use of our
limbs we might have kept them. You take this man to be your husband—
better for worse—richer or poorer—ha! who are you rolling, dog?
have you no regard to digestion, to shake a man in this manner, just
"It's I, sir—Meriton."
"And what the devil do you mean by this liberty. Mr. I, or Meriton,
or whatever you call yourself!"
"I am sent for you in a great hurry, sir— awful things have
happened to-night up in Tremont!"—
"Happened!" repeated Polwarth, who by this time was thoroughly
awake—"I know, fellow, that your master is married—I gave the
bride away myself. I suppose nothing else, that is particularly
extraordinary, has happened."
"Oh! Lord, yes, sir—my Lady is in faintingfits, and master Lionel
has gone, God knows whither, and Madam Lechmere is dead!"
Meriton had not concluded, before Polwarth sprang from his bed in
the best manner he was able, and began to dress himself, by a sort of
instinct, though without any definite object. By the unfortunate
arrangement of Meriton's intelligence, he supposed the death of Mrs.
Lechmere to be in consequence of some strange and mysterious
separation of the bride from her husband, and his busy thoughts did
not fail to recall the singular interruption of the nuptials, so
"And Miss Danforth!" he asked—"how does she bear it?"
"Like a woman, as she is, and a true lady. It is no small thing as
puts Miss Agnus beside herself, sir!"
"No, that it is not! she is much more apt to drive others mad."
"'Twas she, sir, as sent me to desire you to come up to
Tremont-street, without any delay."
"The devil it was! Hand me that boot, my good fellow.—One boot,
thank God, is sooner put on than two! The vest and stock next. You,
Shearflint! where have you got to, sirrah! Bring me my leg, this
As soon as his own man heard this order, he made his appearance,
and as he was much more conversant with the mystery of his master's
toilette than Meriton, the captain was soon equipped for his sudden
During the time he was dressing, he continued to put hasty
questions to Meriton, concerning the cause of the disturbance in
Tremont-street, the answers to which only served to throw him more
upon the ocean of uncertainty than ever. The instant he was clad, he
wrapped himself in his cloak, and taking the arm of the valet, he
essayed to find his way through the tempest to the spot where he was
told Agnes Danforth awaited his appearance, with a chivalry that in
another age, and under different circumstances, would have made him a
"Proud lineage! now how little thou appearest!"
Notwithstanding the unusual alacrity with which Polwarth obeyed the
unexpected summons of the capricious being whose favour he had so
long courted, with so little apparent success, he lingered in his
steps as he approached near enough to the house in Tremont-street, to
witness the glancing lights which flitted before the windows. On the
threshold he stopped, and listened to the opening and shutting of
doors, and all those marked, and yet stifled sounds, which are wont
to succeed a visit of the grim monarch to the dwellings of the sick.
His rap was unanswered, and he was compelled to order Meriton to show
him into the little parlour where he had so often been a guest, under
more propitious circumstances. Here he found Agnes, awaiting his
appearance with a gravity, if not sadness of demeanour, that instantly
put to flight certain complimentary effusions with which the captain
had determined to open the interview, in order to follow up, in the
true temper of a soldier, the small advantage he conceived he had
obtained in the good opinion of his mistress. Altering the exulting
expression of his features, with his first glance at the countenance
of Miss Danforth, Polwarth paid his compliments in a manner better
suited to the state of the family, and desired to know if in any
manner he could contribute to the comfort or relief.
"Death has been among us, captain Polwarth," said Agnes, "and his
visit has, indeed, been sudden and unexpected. To add to our
embarrassment, Major Lincoln is missing!"
As she concluded, Agnes fastened her eyes on the face of the other,
as though she would require an explanation of the unaccountable
absence of the bridegroom.
"Lionel Lincoln is not a man to fly, because death approaches,"
returned the captain, musing; "and less should I suspect him of
deserting, in her distress, one like the lovely creature he has
married. Perhaps he has gone in quest of medical aid?"
"It cannot be. I have gathered from the broken sentences of Cecil,
that he, and some third person, to me unknown, were last with my
aunt, and must have been present at her death; for the face was
covered. I found the bride in the room which Lionel has lately
occupied— the doors open, and with indications that he and his
unknown companion had left the house by the private stairs, which
communicate with the western door. As my cousin speaks but little,
all other clue to the movements of her husband is lost, unless this
ornament, which I found glittering among the embers of the fire, may
serve for such a purpose. It is, I believe, a soldier's gorget?"
"It is, indeed; and it would seem the wearer has been in some
jeopardy, by this bullet-hole through its centre. By heavens! 'tis
that of M`Fuse!—Here is the 18th engraved; and I know these little
marks which the poor fellow was accustomed to make on it at every
battle; for he never failed to wear the bauble. The last was the
saddest record of them all!"
"In what manner, then, could it be conveyed into the apartment of
Major Lincoln? Is it possible that"—
"In what manner, truly!" interrupted Polwarth, rising in his
agitation, and beginning to pace the room, in the best manner his
mutilated condition would allow—"Poor Dennis! that I should find
such a relic of thy end, at last! You did not know Dennis, I believe.
He was a man, fair Agnes, every way adapted by nature for a soldier.
His was the form of Hercules! The heart of a lion, and the digestion
of an ostrich! But he could not master this cruel lead! He is dead,
poor fellow, he is dead!"
"Still you find no clue in the gorget by which to trace the
living?" demanded Agnes.
"Ha!" exclaimed Polwarth, starting—"I think I begin to see into
the mystery! The fellow who could slay the man with whom he had eaten
and drunk, might easily rob the dead! You found the gorget near the
fire of Major Lincoln's room, say you fair Agnes?"
"In the embers, as if cast there for concealment, or dropped in
some sudden strait."
"I have it—I have it," returned Polwarth, striking his hands
together, and speaking through his teeth—"'twas that dog who
murdered him, and justice shall now take its swing—fool or no fool,
he shall be hung up like jerked beef, to dry in the winds of heaven!"
"Of whom speak you, Polwarth, with that threatening air?" inquired
Agnes, in a soothing voice, of which, like the rest of her sex, she
well knew not only the power, but when to exercise it.
"Of a canting, hypocritical, miscreant, who is called Job Pray—a
fellow with no more conscience than brains, nor any more brains than
honesty. An ungainly villain; who will eat of your table to day, and
put the same knife that administered to his hunger to your throat
tomorrow! It was such a dog that butchered the glory of Erin!"
"It must have been in open battle, then," said Agnes, "for though
wanting in reason, Job has been reared in the knowledge of good and
evil. The child must be strongly stamped with the wrath of God,
indeed, for whom some effort is not made by a Boston mother, to
recover his part in the great atonement!"
"He, then, is an exception; for surely no Christian will join you
in the great natural pursuit of eating at one moment, and turn his
fangs on a comrade at the next."
"But what has all this to do with the absent bridegroom?"
"It proves that Job Pray has been in his room since the fire was
replenished, or some other than you would have found the gorget."
"It proves a singular association, truly, between Major Lincoln and
the simpleton," said Agnes, musing; "but still it throws no light on
his disappearance. 'Twas an old man that my cousin mentioned in her
"My life on it, fair Agnes, that if Major Lincoln has left the
house mysteriously to-night, it is under the guidance of that
wretch!—I have known them together in council more than once,
"Then, if he be weak enough to forsake such a woman as my cousin,
at the instigation of a fool, he is unworthy of another thought!"
Agnes coloured as she spoke, and turned the conversation, with a
manner that denoted how deeply she resented the slight to Cecil.
The peculiar situation of the town, and the absence of all her own
male relatives, soon induced Miss Danforth to listen to the reiterated
offers of service from the captain, and finally to accept them. Their
conference was long and confidential; nor did Polwarth retire until
his footsteps were assisted by the dull light of the approaching day.
When he left the house to return to his own quarters, no tidings had
been heard of Lionel, whose intentional absence was now so certain,
that the captain proceeded to give his orders for the funeral of the
deceased, without any further delay. He had canvassed with Agnes the
propriety of every arrangement so fully, that he was at no loss how to
conduct himself. It had been determined between them that the state
of the siege, as well as certain indications of movements which were
already making in the garrison, rendered it inexpedient to delay the
obsequies a moment longer than was required by the unavoidable
Accordingly, the Lechmere vault, in the church-yard of the `King's
Chapel,' was directed to be opened, and the vain trappings in which
the dead are usually enshrouded, were provided. The same clergyman
who had so lately pronounced the nuptial benediction over the child,
was now required to perform the last melancholy offices of the church
over the parent, and the invitations to the few friends of the family
who remained in the place were duly issued in suitable form.
By the time the sun had fallen near the amphitheatre of hills,
along whose crests were, here and there, to be seen the works of the
indefatigable men who held the place in leaguer, the brief
preparations for the interment of the deceased were completed. The
prophetical words of Ralph were now fulfilled, and, according to the
custom of the province, the doors of one of its proudest dwellings
were thrown open for all who choose, to enter and depart at will. The
funeral train, though respectable, was far from extending to that
display of solemn countenances which Boston in its peace and pride
would not have failed to exhibit on any similar occasion. A few of
the oldest and most respected of the inhabitants, who were distantly
connected by blood, or alliances with the deceased, attended; but
there had been nothing in the cold and selfish character of Mrs.
Lechmere to gather the poor and dependent in sorrowing groups around
her funeral rites. The passage of the body, from its late dwelling to
the tomb, was quiet, decent, and impressive, but entirely without any
demonstrations of grief. Cecil had buried herself and her sorrows,
together, in the privacy of her own room, and none of the more distant
relatives who had collected, male or female, appeared to find it at
all difficult to restrain their feelings within the bounds of the most
Dr. Liturgy received the body, as usual, on the threshold of the
sacred edifice, and the same solemn and affecting language was uttered
over the dead, as if she had departed soothed by the most cheerful
visions of an assured faith. As the service proceeded, the citizens
clustered about the coffin, in deep attention, in admiration of the
unwonted tremor and solemnity that had crept into the voice of the
Among this little collection of the inhabitants of the colony, were
interspersed a few men in the military dress, who, having known the
family of the deceased in more settled times, had not forgotten to
pay the last tribute to the memory of one of its dead.
When the short service was ended, the body was raised on the
shoulders of the attendants, and borne into the yard, to its place of
final rest. At such a funeral, where few mourned, and none wept, no
unnecessary delay would be made in disposing of the melancholy relicks
of mortality. In a very few moments, the narrow tenement which
contained the festering remains of one who had so lately harboured
such floods of human passion, was lowered from the light of day, and
the body was left to moulder by the side of those which had gone
before to the darkness of the tomb. Perhaps of all who witnessed the
descent of the coffin, Polwarth alone, through that chain of
sympathies which bound him to the caprice of Agnes, felt any emotion
at all in consonance with the solemn scene. The obsequies of the dead
were, like the living character of the woman, cold, formal, and
artificial. The sexton and his assistants had hardly commenced
replacing the stone which covered the entrance of the vault, when a
knot of elderly men set the example of desertion, by moving away in a
body from the spot. As they picked their footsteps among the graves,
and over the frozen ground of the church-yard, they discoursed idly
together, of the fortunes and age of the woman, of whom they had now
taken their leave for ever. The curse of selfishness appeared even to
have fallen on the warning which so sudden an end should have given to
those who forgot they tottered on the brink of the grave. They spoke
of the deceased as of one who had failed to awaken the charities of
our nature, and though several ventured their conjectures as to the
manner in which she had disposed of her worldly possessions, not one
remembered to lament that she had continued no longer, to enjoy them.
From this theme they soon wandered to themselves, and the whole party
quitted the church-yard, joking each other on the inroads of time,
each man attempting to ape the elastic tread of youth, in order not
only to conceal from his companions the ravages of age, but with a
vain desire to extend the artifice so far, if possible, as to deceive
When the seniors of the party withdrew, the remainder of the
spectators did not hesitate to follow, and in a few minutes Polwarth
found himself standing before the vault, with only two others of all
those who had attended the body. The captain, who had been at no
little expense of time and trouble to maintain the decencies which
became a near friend of the family of the deceased, stood a minute
longer to permit these lingering followers to retire also, before he
turned his own back on the place of the dead. But perceiving they
both maintained their posts, in silent attention, he raised his eyes,
more curiously, to examine who these loiterers might be.
The one nearest to himself was a man whose dress and air bespoke
him to be of no very exalted rank in life, while the other was a woman
of even an inferior condition, if an opinion might be formed from the
squalid misery that was exhibited in her attire. A little fatigued
with the arduous labours of the day, and of the duties of the unusual
office he had assumed, the worthy captain touched his hat, with
studied decorum, and said—
"I thank you, good people, for this mark of respect to the memory
of my deceased friend; but as we have performed all that can now be
done in her behalf, we will retire."
Apparently encouraged by the easy and courteous manner of Polwarth,
the man approached still nigher, and after bowing with much respect,
ventured to say—
"They tell me 'tis the funeral of Madam Lechmere that I have
"They tell you true, sir," returned the captain, beginning slowly
to pick his way towards the gate; "of Mrs. Priscilla, the relict of
Mr. John Lechmere—a lady of a creditable descent, and I think it
will not be denied that she has had honourable interment!"
"If it be the lady I suppose," continued the stranger, "she is of
an honourable descent indeed. Her maiden name was Lincoln, and she is
aunt to the great Devonshire Baronet of that family."
"How! know you the Lincolns?" exclaimed Polwarth, stopping short,
and turning to examine the other with a stricter eye. Perceiving,
however, that the stranger was a man of harsh and peculiarly
forbidding features, in the vulgar dress already mentioned, he
muttered—"you may have heard of them, friend, but I should doubt
whether your intimacy could amount to such wholesome familiarities as
eating and drinking."
"Stronger intimacies than that, sir, are sometimes brought about
between men who were born to very different fortunes," returned the
stranger, with a peculiarly sarcastic and ambiguous smile, which
meant more than met the eye— "but all who know the Lincolns, sir,
will allow their claims to distinction. If this lady was one of them,
she had reason to be proud of her blood."
"Ay, you are not tainted, I see, with these revolutionary notions,
my friend," returned Polwarth; "she was also connected with a very
good sort of a family in this colony, called the Danforths— you
know the Danforths?"
"Not at all, sir, I—"
"Not know the Danforths!" exclaimed Polwarth, once more stopping to
bestow a freer scrutiny on his companion. After a short pause,
however, he nodded his head, in approbation of his own conclusions,
and added—"No, no—I am wrong—I see you could not have known much
of the Danforths!"
The stranger appeared quite willing to overlook the cavalier
treatment he received, for he continued to attend the difficult
footsteps of the maimed soldier, with the same respectful deference
"I have no knowledge of the Danforths, it is true," he answered,
"but I may boast of some intimacy with the family of Lincoln."
"Would to God, then," cried Polwarth, in a sort of soliloquy, which
escaped him in the fullness of his heart, "you could tell us what has
become of its heir!"
The stranger stopped short in his turn, and exclaimed—
"Is he not serving with the army of the king, against this
rebellion! Is he not here!"
"He is here, or he is there, or he is any where; I tell you he is
"He is lost!" echoed the other.
"Lost!" repeated a humble female voice, at the very elbow of the
This singular repetition of his own language, aroused Polwarth from
the abstraction into which he had suffered himself to fall. In his
course from the vault to the church-yard gate, he had unconsciously
approached the woman before mentioned, and when he turned at the
sounds of her voice, his eyes fell full upon her anxious countenance.
The very first glance was enough to tell the observant captain, that
in the midst of her poverty and rags, he saw the broken remains of
great female beauty. Her dark and intelligent eyes, set as they were
in a sallow and sunken eountenance, still retained much of the
brightness, if not of the softness and peace of youth. The contour of
her face was also striking, though she might be said to resemble one
whose loveliness had long since departed with her innocence. But the
gallantry of Polwarth was proof even against the unequivocal signs of
misery, if not of guilt, which were so easily to be traced in her
appearance, and he respected even the remnants of female charms which
were yet visible amid such a mass of unseemliness, to regard them with
an unfriendly eye. Apparently encouraged by the kind look of the
captain, the woman ventured to add—
"Did I hear aright, sir; said you that Major Lincoln was lost?"
"I am afraid, good woman," returned the captain, leaning on the
iron-shod stick, with which he was wont to protect his footsteps along
the icy streets of Boston—"that this siege has, in your case,
proved unusually severe. If I am not mistaken in a matter in which I
profess to know much, nature is not supported as nature should be.
You would ask for food, and God forbid that I should deny a
fellow-creature a morsel of that which constitutes both the seed and
the fruits of life. Here is money."
The muscles of the attenuated countenance of the woman worked with
a sudden convulsive motion, and, for a moment, she glanced her eyes
wistfully towards his silver, but a slight flush passing quickly over
her pallid features, she answered—
"Whatever may be my wants and my suffering, I thank my God that he
has not levelled me with the beggar of the streets. Before that evil
day shall come, may I find a place amongst these frozen hillocks
where we stand. But, I beg pardon, sir, I thought I heard you speak of
"I did—and what of him? I said he was lost, and it is true, if
that be lost which cannot be found."
"And did Madam Lechmere take her leave before he was missing?"
asked the woman, advancing a step nearer to Polwarth, in her intense
anxiety to be answered.
"Do you think, good woman, that a gentleman of Major Lincoln's
notion of things, would disappear after the decease of his relative,
and leave a comparative stranger to fill the office of principal
"The Lord forgive us all our sins and wickedness!" muttered the
woman, drawing the shreds of her tattered cloak about her shivering
form, and hastening silently away into the depths of the grave-yard.
Polwarth regarded her unceremonious departure for a moment, in
surprise, and then turning to his remaining companion, he remarked—
"That woman is unsettled in her reason, for the want of wholesome
nutriment. It is just as impossible to retain the powers of the mind,
and neglect the stomach, as it is to expect a truant boy will make a
learned man." By this time the worthy captain had forgotten whom it
was he addressed, and he continued, in his usual philosophic strain,
"children are sent to school to learn all useful inventions but that
of eating; for to eat—that is to eat with judgment, is as much of
an invention as any other discovery. Every mouthful a man swallows has
to undergo four important operations, each of which may be called a
crisis in the human constitution."
"Suffer me to help you over this grave," said the other,
officiously offering his assistance.
"I thank you, sir, I thank you—'tis a sad commentary on my
words!" returned the captain, with a melancholy smile. "The time has
been when I served in the light corps, but your men in unequal
quantities are good for little else but garrisons! As I was saying,
there is first, the selection; second, mastication; third,
deglutition; and lastly, the digestion."
"Quite true, sir," said the stranger, a little abruptly; "thin diet
and light meals are best for the brain."
"Thin diet and light meals sir, are good for nothing but to rear
dwarfs and idiots!" returned the captain, with some heat. "I repeat to
He was interrupted by the stranger, who suddenly smothered a
dissertation on the connexion between the material and immaterial, by
"If the heir of such a family be lost, is there none to see that he
is found again?"
Polwarth finding himself thus checked in the very opening of his
theme, stopped again, and stared the other full in the face for a
moment, without making any reply. His kind feeling, however, got the
better of his displeasure, and yielding to the interest he felt in the
fate of Lionel, he answered—
"I would go all lengths, and incur every hazard to do him service!"
"Then, sir, accident has brought those together who are willing to
engage in the same undertaking! I, too, will do my utmost to discover
him! I have heard he has friends in this province. Has he no
connexion to whom we may apply for intelligence?"
"None nearer than a wife."
"A wife!" repeated the other, in surprise—"is he then married?"
A long pause ensued, during which the stranger mused deeply, and
Polwarth bestowed a still more searching scrutiny than ever on his
companion. It would appear that the result was not satisfactory to
the captain, for shaking his head, in no very equivocal manner, he
resumed the task of picking his way among the graves, towards the
gate, with renewed diligence. He was in the act of seating himself in
the pung, when the stranger again stood at his elbow, and said—
"If I knew where to find his wife, I would offer my services to the
Polwarth pointed to the building of which Cecil was now the
mistress, and answered, somewhat superciliously, as he drove away—
"She is there, my good friend, but your application will be
The stranger received the direction in an understanding manner, and
smiled with satisfied confidence, while he took the opposite route
from that by which the busy equipage of the captain had already
"Up Fish-street! down Saint Magnus' corner!
"Kill and knock down! Throw them into Thames!—
"What noise is this I hear? Dare any be so bold to sound
"Retreat or parly; when I command them kill?"
King Henry IV.
It was rarely, indeed, that the equal minded Polwarth undertook an
adventure with so fell an intent, as, was the disposition with which
he directed the head of the hunter to be turned towards the
dock-square. He had long known the residence of Job Pray, and often in
passing from his lodgings, near the common, into the more fashionable
quarter of the town, the good-natured epicure had turned his head to
bestow a nod and a smile on the unsophisticated admirer of his skill
in the culinary art. But now, as the pung whirled out of Corn-hill
into the well-known area, his eye fell on the low and gloomy walls of
the warehouse with a far less amicable design.
From the time he was apprized of the disappearance of his friend,
the captain had been industriously ruminating on the subject, in a
vain wish to discover any probable reason that might induce a
bridegroom to adopt so hasty, and apparently so unjustifiable, a step
as the desertion of his bride, and that, too, under circumstances of
such peculiar distress. But the more he reasoned the more he found
himself involved in the labyrinth of perplexity, until he was glad to
seize on the slightest clue which offered, to lead him from his
obscurity. It has already been seen in what manner he received the
intelligence conveyed through the gorget of M`Fuse, and it now
remains for us to show with what commendable ingenuity he improved the
It had always been a matter of surprise to Polwarth, that a man
like Lionel should tolerate so much of the society of the simpleton,
nor had it escaped his observation that the communications between
the two were a little concealed under a shade of mystery. He had
overheard the foolish boast of the lad, the preceding day, relative
to the death of M`Fuse, and the battered ornament, in conjunction
with the place where it was found, which accorded so well with his
grovelling habits, had tended to confirm its truth. The love of
Polwarth for the grenadier was second only to his attachment for his
earlier friend. The one had avowedly fallen, and he soon began to
suspect that the other had been strangely inveigled from his duty by
the agency of this ill-gifted changeling. To conceive an opinion, and
to become confirmed in its justice, were results, generally, produced
by the same operation of the mind, with this disciple of animal
philosophy. Whilst he stood near the tomb of the Lechmeres, in the
important character of chief mourner, he had diligently revolved in
his mind the brief arguments which he found necessary to this
conclusion. The arrangement of his ideas might boast of the terseness
of a syllogism. His proposition and inference were something as
follows—Job murdered M`Fuse; some great evil has occurred to
Lionel; and therefore Job has been its author.
It is true, there was a good deal of intermediate argument to
support this deduction, at which the captain cast an extremely cursory
glance, but which the reader may easily conceive, if at all gifted in
the way of imagination. It would require no undue belief of the
connexion between very natural effects and their causes, to show that
Polwarth was not entirely unreasonable in suspecting the agency of
the simpleton, nor in harbouring the deep and bitter resentment that
so much mischief, even though it were sustained from the hands of a
fool, was likely to awaken. Be that as it may, by the time the pung
had reached the point already mentioned, its rapid motion, which
accelerated the ordinarily quiet circulation of his blood, together
with the scene through which he had just passed, and the recollections
which had been crowding on his mind, conspired to wind up his
resolution to a very obstinate pitch of determination. Of all his
schemes, embracing, as they did, compulsion, confession, and
punishment, Job Pray was, of course, destined to be both the subject
and the victim.
The shadows of evening were already thrown upon the town, and the
could had long before driven the few dealers in meats and vegetables,
who continued to find daily employment around the illfurnished
shambles, to their several homes. In their stead there was only to be
seen a meager and impoverished follower of the camp, stealing along
the shadows of the building, with her half-famished child, as they
searched among the offals of the market for some neglected morsel, to
eke out the scanty meal of the night. But while the common mart
presented this appearance of dullness and want, the lower part of the
square exhibited a very different aspect.
The warehouse was surrounded by a body of men in uniform, whose
disorderly and rapid movements proclaimed at once, to the experienced
eye of the captain, that they were engaged in a seene of lawless
violence. Some were rushing furiously into the building, armed with
such weapons as the streets first offered to their hands, while
others returned, filling the air with their threats and outcries. A
constant current of eager soldiers was setting out of the dark
passages in the neighbourhood towards the place, and every window of
the building was crowded with excited witnesses, who clung to the
walls, apparently animating those within by their cheers and applause.
When Polwarth bade Shearflint pull the reins, he caught the quick,
half-formed sentences that burst from the rioters, and even before he
was able, in the duskiness of the evening, to discover the facings of
their uniform, his ear detected the well-known dialect of the Royal
Irish. The whole truth now broke upon him at once, and throwing his
obese person from the sleigh, in the best manner he was able, he
hobbled into the throng, with a singular compound of feeling, which
owed its birth to the opposing impulses, of a thirst for vengeance,
and the lingering influence of his natural kindness. Better men than
the captain have, however, lost sight of their humanity, under those
fierce sympathies that are awakened in moments of tumult and violence.
By the time he had forced his person into the large, dark apartment
that formed the main building, he had, in a great degree, suffered
himself to be worked into a sternness of purpose which comported very
ill with his intelligence and rank. He even listened, with
unaccountable pleasure, to the threats and denunciations which filled
the building; until, he foresaw, from their savage nature, there was
great danger that one half of his object, the discovery of Lionel, was
likely to be frustrated by their fulfilment. Animated anew by this
impression, he threw the rioters from him with prodigious energy, and
succeeded in gaining a position where he might become a more efficient
actor in the fray.
There was still light enough to discover Job Pray placed in the
centre of the warehouse, on his miserable bed, in an attitude between
lying and sitting. While his bodily condition seemed to require the
former position, his fears had induced him to attempt the latter. The
large, red blotches which covered his unmeaning countenance, and his
flushed eye-balls, too plainly announced that the unfortunate young
man, in addition to having become the object of the wrath of a lawless
mob, was a prey to the ravages of that foul disorder which had long
before lighted on the town. Around this squalid subject of poverty and
disease, a few of the hardiest of the rioters, chiefly the surviving
grenadiers of the 18th, had gathered; while the less excited, or more
timid among them, practised their means of annoyance at a greater
distance from the malign atmosphere of the distemper. The bruised and
bloody person of the simpleton manifested how much he had already
suffered from the hands of his tormentors, who happily possessed no
very fatal weapons, or the scene would have been much earlier
terminated. Notwithstanding his great bodily debility, and the
pressing dangers that beset him on every side, Job continued to face
his assailants, with a sort of stupid endurance of the pains they
At the sight of this revolting spectacle, the heart of Polwarth
began greatly to relent, and he endeavoured to make himself heard, in
the clamour of fifty voices. But his presence was unheeded, for his
remonstrances were uttered to ignorant men, wildly bent on vengeance.
"Pul the baist from his rags!" cried one— "'tis no a human man,
but a divil's imp, in the shape of a fellow cratur!"
"For such as
him to murder the flower of the British army!"
said another—"his small-pox is nothing but a foul invintion of the
ould one, to save him from his daisarrevings!"
"Would any but a divil invent such a disorder at all!" interrupted
a third, who, even in his anger, could not forget his humour. "Have a
care, b'ys, he may give it to the whole family the naat'ral way, to
save the charges of the innoculation!"
"Have done wid ye'r foolery, Terence," returned the first; "would
ye trifle about death, and his unrevenged! Put a coal into his
filth, b'ys, and burren it and him in the same bonfire!"
"A coal! a coal! a brand for the divil's burning!" echoed twenty
soldiers, eagerly listening, in the madness of their fury, to the
Polwarth again exerted himself, though unsuccessfully, to be heard;
nor was it until a dozen voices proclaimed, in disappointment, that
the house contained neither fire nor fuel, that the sudden commotion
in the least subsided.
"Out of the way! out of the way wid ye!" roared one of gigantic
mould, whose heavy nature had, like an overcharged volcano, been
slowly wrought up to the eve of a fearful eruption— "Here is fire
to destroy a salamander! Be he divil or be he saint, he has great need
of his prayers!"
As he spoke, the fellow levelled a musket, and another instant
would have decided the fate of Job, who cowered before the danger with
instinctive dread, had not Polwarth beat up the piece with his cane,
and interposed his body between them.
"Hold your fire, brave grenadier," he said, warily adopting a
middle course between the language of authority and that of counsel.
"This is hasty and unsoldier-like. I knew, and loved your late
commander well; let us obtain the confessions of the lad before we
proceed to punishment— there may be others more guilty than he."
The men regarded the unexpected intruder with such furious aspects
as augured ill of their deference for his advice and station. "Blood
for blood," passed from mouth to mouth, in low, sullen mutterings,
and the short pause which had succeeded his appearance was already
broken by still less equivocal marks of hostility, when, happily for
Polwarth, he was recognised, through the twilight, by a veteran of the
grenadiers, as one of the former intimates of M`Fuse. The instant the
soldier communicated this discovery to his fellows, the growing uproar
again subsided, and the captain was relieved from no small bodily
terror, by hearing his own name passing among them, coupled with such
amicable additions as, "his ould fri'nd!" "an offisher of the
light troops"—"he that the ribbils massacred of a leg!" &c. As soon
as this explanation was generally understood, his ears were greeted
with a burst from every mouth, of—
"Hurrah! for captain Pollywarreth!
His fri'nd! the brave
Pleased with his success, and secretly gratified by the
commendations that were now freely lavished on himself, with
characteristic liberality, the mediator improved the slight advantage
he had obtained, by again addressing them.
"I thank you, for your good opinion, my friends," he added, "and
must acknowledge it is entirely mutual. I love the Royal Irish, on
account of one that I well knew, and greatly esteemed, and who I fear
was murdered in defiance of all the rules of war."
"Hear ye that, Dennis? murdered!"
"Blood for blood!" muttered three or four surly voices at once.
"Let us he deliberate, that we may be just, and just that our
vengeance may be awful," Polwarth quickly answered, fearful that if
the torrent once more broke loose, it would exceed his powers to
stay. "A true soldier always awaits his orders; and what regiment in
the army can boast of its discipline, if it be not the 18th! Form
yourselves in a circle around your prisoner, and listen, while I
extract the truth from him. After that, should he prove guilty, I will
consign him to your tenderest mercy."
The rioters, who only saw, in the delay, a more methodical
execution of their own violent purpose, received the proposition with
another shout, and the name of Polwarth, pronounced in all the
varieties of their barbarous idioms, rung loudly through the naked
rafters of the building, while they disposed themselves to comply.
The captain, with a wish to gain time to command his thoughts,
required that a light should be struck, in order, as he said, to study
the workings of the countenance of the accused. As the night had now
gathered about them in good earnest, the demand was too reasonable for
objection, and with the same headlong eagerness that they had
manifested a few minutes before, to shed the blood of Job, they turned
their attention, with thoughtless versatility, to effect this harmless
object. A brand had been brought, for a very different end, when the
plan of burning was proposed, and it had been cast aside again with
the change of purpose. A few of its sparks were now collected, and
some bundles of oakum, which lay in a corner of the warehouse, were
fired, and carefully fed in such a manner as to shed a strong light
through every cranny of the gloomy edifice.
By the aid of this fitful glare, the captain succeeded, once more,
in marshalling the rioters in such a manner that no covert injury
could be offered to Job. The whole affair now assumed, in some
measure, the character of a regular investigation. The curiosity of
the men without, overcame their fears of infection, and they crowded
into the place, in earnest attention, until, in a very few moments,
no other sound was audible but the difficult and oppressed respiration
of their victim. When all the other noises had ceased, and Polwarth,
perceived, by the eager and savage countenances, athwart which the
bright glare of the burning hemp was gleaming, that delay might yet
be dangerous, he proceeded, at once, in his inquiries.
"You may see, Job Pray, by the manner in which you are surrounded,"
he said, "that judgment has at length overtaken you, and that your
only hope for mercy lies in your truth. Answer, then, to such
questions as I shall put, and keep the fear of God before your eyes."
The captain paused to allow this exhortation to produce its desired
effect. But Job, perceiving that his late tormentors were quiet, and
to all appearance bent on no immediate mischief, sunk his head
languidly upon his blankets, where he lay in silence, watching, with
rolling and anxious eyes, the smallest movements of his enemies.
Polwarth soon yielded to the impatience of his listeners, and
"You are acquainted with Major Lincoln?"
"Major Lincoln!" grumbled three or four of the grenadiers—"is it
of him that we want to hear!"
"One moment, my worthy 18ths, I shall come at the whole truth the
sooner, by taking this indirect course."
"Hurrah! for captain Pollywarreth!" shouted the rioter—"him that
the ribbils massacred of a leg!"
"Thank you—thank you, my considerate friends—answer, fellow,
without prevarication; you dare not deny to me, your knowledge of
After a momentary pause, a low voice was heard muttering among the
"Job knows all the Boston people; and Major Lincoln is a Boston
"But with Major Lincoln you had a more particular
acquaintance—restrain your impatience, men; these questions lead
directly to the facts you wish to know." The rioters, who were
profoundly ignorant of what sort of facts they were to be made
acquainted with by this examination, looked at each other in uneasy
doubt, but soon settled down again into their former deep
silence.—"You know him better than any other gentleman of the army?"
"He promised Job to keep off the grannies, and Job agreed to run
"Such an arrangement betrays a greater intimacy than is usual
between a wise man and a fool! If you are then so close in league with
him, I demand what has become of your associate?"
The young man made no reply.
"You are thought to know the reasons why he has left his friends,"
returned Polwarth, "and I now demand that you declare them."
"Declare!" repeated the simpleton, in his most unmeaning and
helpless manner—"Job was never good at his schooling."
"Nay, then, if you are obstinate, and will not answer, I must
withdraw, and permit these brave grenadiers to work their will on you."
This threat served to induce Job to raise his head, and assume that
attitude and look of instinctive watchfulness that he had so recently
abandoned. A slight movement of the crowd followed, and the terrible
words of "blood for blood," again passed among them in sullen murmurs.
The helpless youth, whom we have been obliged to call an idiot, for
want of a better term, and because his mental imbecility removed him
without the pale of legal responsibility, now stared wildly about
him, with an increasing expression of reason, that might be ascribed
expression the force of that inward fire which preyed upon his
vitals, and which seemed to purify the spirit in proportion as it
consumed the material dross of his existence.
"Its ag'in the laws of the Bay, to beat and torment a
fellow-creature," he said, with a solemn carnestness in his voice,
that would have melted hearts of ordinary softness; "and what is more,
its ag'in His holy book! If you hadn't made oven-wood of the old
North, and a horse-stable of the old South, you might have gone to
hear such expounding as would have made the hair rise on your wicked
The cries of—"Have done wid his foolery;" "the imp is playing his
games on us!" "As if his wooden mockery was a church at all fit for a
ra'al Christian!" were heard on every side, and they were succeeded by
the often-repeated and appalling threat, of "blood for blood!"
"Fall back, men, fall back," cried Polwarth, flourishing his
walking-stic in such a manner as effectually to enforce his orders;
"wait for his confession before you judge. Fellow, this is the last
and trying appeal to your truth—your life most probably depends on
the answer. You are known to have been in arms against the
crown.—Nay, I myself saw you in the field on that day when the
troops a-a-a countermarched from Lexington; since when you are known
to have joined the rebels while the army went out to storm the
entrenchment on the heights of Charlestown." At this point in the
recapitulation of the offences of Job, the captain was suddenly
appalled by a glimpse at the dark and threatening looks that
encircled him, and he concluded with a laudable readiness—"On that
glorious day when his majesty's troops scattered your provincial
rabble like so many sheep driven from their pastures, by dogs!"
The humane ingenuity of Polwarth was rewarded by a burst of loud
and savage laughter. Encouraged by this evidence of his power over his
auditors, the worthy captain proceeded with an increased confidence
in his own eloquence.
"On that glorious day," he continued, gradually warming with his
subject, "many a gallant gentleman, and hundreds of fearless privates,
met their fate. Some fell in open and manly fight, and according to
the chances of regular warfare. Some—he-e-m—some have been
multilated; and will carry the marks of their glory with them to the
grave." His voice grew a little thick and husky as he proceeded, but
shaking off his weakness, he ended with an energy that he intended
should curdle the heart of the prisoner, "while, fellow, some have
"Blood for blood!" was heard again passing its fearful round.
Without attempting any longer to repress the rising spirit of the
rioters, Polwarth continued his interrogatories, entirely led away by
the strength of his own feelings on this sensitive subject.
"Remember you such a man as Dennis M`Fuse?" he demanded in a voice
of thunder; "he that was treacherously slain in your inmost trenches,
after the day was won! Answer me, knave, were you not among the
rabble, and did not your own vile hand the bloody deed?"
A few words were heard from Job, in a low, muttering tone, of which
only "the rake-hellies," and "the people will teach 'em the law!" were
sufficiently distinct to be understood.
"Murder him! part him sowl from body!" exclaimed the fiercest of
"Hold!" cried Polwarth; "but one moment more—I would relieve my
mind from the debt I owe his memory. Speak, fellow; what know you of
the death of the commander of these brave grenadiers?"
Job, who had listened to his words attentively, though his uneasy
eyes still continued to watch the slightest movements of his foes, now
turned to the speaker with a look of foolish triumph, and answered—
"The 18th came up the hill, shouting like roaring lions! but the
Royal Irish had a deathhowl, that evening, over their tallest man!"
Polwarth trembled with the violence of the passions that beset him,
but while with one hand he motioned to the men to keep back, with the
other he produced the battered gorget from his pocket, and held it
before the eyes of the simpleton.
"Know you this?" he demanded; "who sënt the bullet through this
Job took the ornament, and for a moment regarded it with an
unconscious look. But his countenance gradually lighting with a ray of
unusual meaning, he laughed in scornful exultation, as he answered—
"Though Job is a fool, he can shoot!"
Polwarth started back aghast, while the fierce resentments of his
ruder listeners broke through all restraint. They raised a loud and
savage shout, as one man, filling the building with hoarse
execrations and cries for vengeance. Twenty expedients to destroy
their captive were named in a breath, and with all the characteristic
vehemence of their nation. Most of them would have been irregularly
adopted, had not the man who attended the burning hemp caught up a
bundle of the flaming combustible, and shouted aloud—
"Smodder him in the fiery flames!—he's an imp of darkness; burren
him, in his rags, from before the face of man!"
The barbarous proposition was received with a sort of frenzied joy,
and in another moment a dozen handsful of the oakum were impending
above the devoted head of the helpless lad. Job made a feeble attempt
to avert the dreadful fate that threatened him, but he could offer no
other resistance than his own weakened arm, and the abject moanings
of his impotent mind. He was enveloped in a cloud of black smoke,
through which the forked flames had already begun to play, when a
woman burst into the throng, casting the fiery combustibles from her,
on either side, as she advanced, with a strength that seemed
supernatural. When she had reached the bed, she tore aside the smoking
pile with hands that disregarded the heat, and placed herself before
the victim, like a fierce lioness, at bay, in defence of her whelps.
In this attitude she stood an instant, regarding the rioters with a
breast that heaved with passions too strong for utterance, when she
found her tongue, and vented her emotions with all the fearlessness of
a woman's indignation.
"Ye monsters in the shape of men, what is't ye do!" she exclaimed,
in a voice that rose above the tumult, and had the effect to hush
every mouth. "Have ye bodies without hearts! the forms without the
bowels of the creatures of God! Who made you judges and punishers of
sins! Is there a father among you, let him come and view the anguish
of a dying child! Is there a son, let him draw near, and look upon a
mother's sorrow! Oh! ye savages, worse than the beasts of the howling
wilderness, who have merey on their kinds, what is't ye do—what
is't ye do!"
The air of maternal intrepidity with which this burst from the
heart was uttered, could not fail to awe the worst passions of the
rioters, who gazed on each other in stupid wonder, as if uncertain
how to act. The hushed, and momentary stillness was, however, soon
broken once more by the low, murmuring threat of, "Blood for blood!"
"Cowards! Dastards! Soldiers in name and demons in your deeds!"
continued the undaunted Abigail—"come ye here to taste of human
blood! Go—away with you to the hills! and face the men of the Bay,
who stand ready to meef you with arms in their hands, and come not
hither to bruise the broken reed! Poor, suffering, and stricken as he
is, by a hand far mightier than yours, my child will meet you there,
to your shame, in the cause of his country, and the law!"
This taunt was too bitter for the unnurtured tempers to which she
appealed, and the dying spark of their resentment was at once kindled
into a blaze by the galling gibe.
The rioters were again in motion, and the cry of "burn the hag and
the imp together," was fiercely raised, when a man of a stout,
muscular frame forced his way into the cenfre of the crowd, making
room for the passage of a female, whose gait and attire, though her
person was concealed by her mantle, announced her to be of a rank
altogether superior to the usual guests of the warehouse. The
unexpected appearance, and lofty, though gentle bearing of this
unlooked-for visiter, served to quell the rising uproar, which was
immediately succeeded by so deep a silence that a whisper could have
been heard in that throng which so lately resounded with violent
tumult and barbarous execrations.
"Ay, sir, you shall find me reasouable; if it be so, I shall "do
that that is reason."
During the close of the foregoing scene Polwarth was in a
bewildered state, that rendered him utterly incapable of exertion,
either to prevent or to assist the evil intentions of the soldiery.
His discretion, and all his better feelings, were certainly on the
side of humanity, but the idle vaunt of the simpleton had stirred
anew the natural thirst for vengeance. He recognized, at the first
glance, in the wan, but speaking lineaments of the mother of Job,
those faded remnants of beauty that he had traced, so lately, in the
squalid female attendant who was seen lingering near the grave of
Mrs. Lechmere. As she rushed before the men, with all the
fearlessness of a mother who stood in defence of her child, the
brightness of her dark eyes, aided as they were by the strong glare
from the scattered balls of fire, and the intense expression of
maternal horror that shone in every feature of her countenance, had
imparted to her appearance a dignity and interest that greatly served
to quell the unusual and dangerous passions that beset him. He was on
the point of aiding her appeal by his authority and advice, when the
second interruption to the brutal purpose of the men occurred, as just
related. The effect of this strange appearance, in such a place, and
at such a time, was not less instant on the captain than on the vulgar
throug who surrounded him. He remained a silent and an attentive
The first sensation of the lady, in finding herself in the centre
of such a confused and unexpected throng, was unequivocally that of
an alarmed and shrinking delicacy; but forgetting her womanish
apprehensions in the next moment, she collected the powers of her
mind, like one sustained by high and laudable intentions, and
dropping the silken folds of her calash, exhibited the pale, but
lovely countenance of Cecil to the view of the wondering bystanders.
After a moment of profound silence, she spoke—
"I know not why I find this fierce collection of faces around the
sick-bed of that unfortunate young man," she said; "but if it be with
evil purpose, I charge you to relent, as you love the honour of your
gallant profession, or fear the power of your leaders. I boast myself
a soldier's wife, and promise you, in the name of one who has the ear
of Howe, pardon for what is past, or punishment for your violence, as
you conduct yourselves."
The rude listeners stared at each other in irresolute hesitation,
seeming already to waver in their purpose, when the old grenadier,
whose fierceness had so nearly cost Job his life, gruffly replied—
"If you're an officer's lady, madam, you'll be knowing how to feel
for the fri'nds of him that's dead and gone; I put it to the face of
your ladyship's reason, if it's not too much for men to bear, and
they such men as the 18ths, to hear a fool boasting on the high-ways
and through the streets of the town, that he has been the death of
the like of captain M'Fuse, of the grenadiers of that same radg'ment!"
"I believe I understand you, friend," returned Cecil, "for I have
heard it whispered that the young man was believed to aid the
Americans on the bloody day to which you allude—but if it is not
lawful to kill in battle, what are you, whose whole trade is war?"
She was interrupted by half-a-dozen eager, though respectful
voices, muttering in the incoherent and vehement manner of their
country, "It's all a difference, my lady!" "Fair fighting isn't
foul-fighting, and foul fighting is murder!" with many other similar
half-formed and equally intelligible remonstrances. When this burst
was ended, the same grenadier who had before spoken, took on himself
the office of explaining.
"If your ladyship spoke never a word again, ye've said the truth
this time," he answered, "though it isn't exactly the truth, at all.
When a man is kill't in the fair war, its a god-send; and no true
Irishman will gainsay the same; but skulking behind a dead body, and
taking aim into the f'atures of a fellow-crature, is what we complain
of against the bloody-minded rascal. Besides, wasn't the day won? and
even his death couldn't give them the victory!"
"I know not all these nice distinctions in your dreadful calling,
friend," Cecil replied, "but I have heard that many fell after the
troops mounted the works."
"That did they; sure your ladyship is knowing all about it! and
it's the more need that some should be punished for the murders! It's
hard to tell when we've got the day with men who make a fight of it
after they are fairly baitin!"
"That others suffered under similar circumstances," continued
Cecil, with a quivering lip, and a tremulous motion of her eye lids,
"I well know, but had never supposed it more than the usual fortune
of every war. But even if this youth has erred—look at him! Is he an
object for the resentment of men who pride themselves on meeting
their enemies on equal terms! He has long been visited by a blow from
a hand far mightier than yours, and even now is labouring, in
addition to all other misfortunes, under that dangerous distemper
whose violence seldom spares those it seizes. Nay, you, in the
blindness of your anger, expose yourselves to its attacks, and when
you think only of revenge, may become its victims!"
The crowd insensibly fell back as she spoke, and a large circle was
left around the bed of Job, while many in the rear stole silently from
the building, with a haste that betrayed how completely apprehension
had got the better of their more evil passions. Cecil paused but an
instant, and pursued her advantage.
"Go," she said; "leave this dangerous vicinity. I have business
with this young man, touching the interests, if not the life of one
dear, deservedly dear to the whole army, and would be left alone with
him and his mother. Here is money—retire to your own quarters, and
endeavour to avert the danger you have so wantonly braved, by care
and regimen. Go; all shall be forgotten and pardoned."
The reluctant grenadier took her gold, and perceiving that he was
already deserted by most of his companions, he made an awkward
obeisance to the fair being before him, and withdrew, not without,
however, casting many a savage and sullen glance at the miserable
wretch who had been thus singularly rescued from his vengeance. Not a
soldier now remained in the building, and the noisy and rapid
utterance of the retiring party, as each vehemently recounted his
deeds, soon became inaudible in the distance.
Cecil then turned to those who remained, and cast a rapid glance at
each individual of the party. The instant she encountered the
wondering look of Polwarth, the blood mantled her pale features once
more, and her eyes fell, for an instant, in embarrassment, to the
"I trust we have been drawn here for a similar purpose, captain
Polwarth," she said, when the slight confusion had passed away—"the
welfare of a common friend?"
"You have not done me injustice," he replied. "When the sad office,
which your fair cousin charged me with, was ended, I hastened hither
to follow a clue which I have reason to believe will conduct us to"—
"What we most desire to find," said Cecil, involuntarily glancing
her anxious eyes towards the other spectators. "But our first duty is
humanity. Cannot this miserable young man be reconveyed to his own
apartment, and have his hurts examined."
"It may be done now, or after our examination," returned the
captain, with a cool indifference that caused Cecil to look up at him
in surprise. Perceiving the unfavourable impression his apathy had
produced, Polwarth turned carelessly to a couple of men who were still
curious lookers-on, at the outer door of the building, he called to
them—"Here, Shearflint, Meriton, remove the fellow into yonder room."
The servants in waiting, who had been hitherto wondering witnesses
of all that passed, received this mandate with strong disgust.
Meriton was loud in his murmurs, and approached the verge of
disobedience, before he consented to touch such an object of squalid
misery. As Cecil, however, enforced the order by her wishes, the
disagreeable duty was performed, and Job replaced on his pallet in the
tower, from which he had been rudely dragged an hour before, by the
At the moment when all danger of further vio lence disappeared,
Abigail had sunk on some of the lumber of the apartment, where she
remained during the removal of her child, in a sort of stupid apathy.
When, however, she perceived that they were now surrounded by those
who were bent on deeds of mercy rather than of anger, she slowly
followed into the little room, and became an anxious observer of the
Polwarth seemed satisfied with what had been done for Job, and now
stood aloof, in sullen attendance on the pleasure of Cecil. The
latter, who had directed every movement with female tenderness and
care, bade the servants retire into the outer-room and wait her
orders. When Abigail, therefore, took her place, in silence, near the
bed of her child, there remained present, besides herself and the
sick, only Cecil, the captain, and the unknown man, who had apparently
led the former to the warehouse. In addition to the expiring flames
of the oakum, the feeble light of a candle was shed through the room,
merely rendering the gloomy misery of its tenants more striking.
Notwithstanding the high, but calm resolution which Cecil had
displayed in the foregoing scene with the rioters, and which still
manifested itself, in the earnest brightness of her intelligent eye,
she appeared willing to profit by the duskiness of the apartment, to
conceal her expressive features from the gaze of even the forlorn
female. She placed herself in one of the shadows of the room, and
partly raised the calash, by a graceful movement of one of her hands,
while she addressed the simpleton—
"Though I have not come hither with any intent to punish, nor in
any manner to intimidate you with threats, Job Pray," she said, with
an earnestness that rendered the soft tones of her voice doubly
impressive—"yet have I come to question you on matters that it would
be wrong, as well as cruel in you, to misrepresent, or in any manner
"You have little cause to fear that any thing but the truth will be
uttered by my child," interrupted Abigail. "The same power that
destroyed his reason, has dealt tenderly with his heart—the boy
knows no guile—would to God the same could be said of the sinful
woman who bore him!"
"I hope the character you give your son will be supported by his
conduct," replied Cecil: "with this assurance of his integrity, I will
directly question him. But that you may see I take no idle liberty
with the young man, let me explain my motives!" She hesitated a
moment, and averted her face unconsciously, as she continued— "I
should think, Abigail Pray, that my person must be known to you?"
"It is—it is," returned the impatient woman, who appeared to feel
the feminine and polished elegance of the other a reproach to her own
misery—"you are the happy and wealthy heiress of her whom I have
seen this day laid in her vault. The grave will open for all alike!
the rich and the poor, the happy as well as the wretched! Yes—yes,
I know you! you are the bride of a rich man's son!"
Cecil shook back the dark tresses that had fallen about her
countenance, and raised her face, tinged with its richest bloom, as
she answered, with an air of matronly dignity—
"If you then know of my marriage, you will at once perceive that I
have the interest of a wife in Major Lincoln—I would wish to learn
his movements of your son."
"Of my boy! of Job! from the poor despised child of poverty and
disease, would you learn tidings of your husband?—no—no, young
lady, you mock us; he is not worthy to be in the secrets of one so
great and happy!"
"Yet am I deceived if he is not! Has there not been one called
Ralph, a frequent inmate of your dwelling, during the past year, and
has he not been concealed here within a very few hours?"
Abigail started at this question, though she did not hesitate to
answer, without prevarication—
"It is true—If I am to be punished for harbouring a being that
comes I know whence, and goes I know whither; who can read the heart,
and knows what man, by his own limited powers, could never know, I
must submit. He was here yesterday; he may be here again to-night; for
he comes and goes at will. Your generals and army may interfere, but
such as I dare not forbid it!"
"Who accompanied him when he departed last?" asked Cecil, in a
voice so low, that, but for the profound stillness of the place, it
would have been inaudible.
"My child—my weak, unmeaning, miserable child!" said Abigail,
with a reckless promptitude that seemed to court any termination to
her misery, however sudden or adverse. "If it be treasonable to
follow in the footsteps of that nameless man, Job has much to answer
"You mistake my purpose—good, rather than evil, will attend your
answers, should they be found true."
"True!" repeated the woman, ceasing the rocking motion of her body,
and looking proudly up into the anxious face of Cecil—"but you are
great and powerful, and are privileged to open the wounds of the
"If I have said any thing to hurt the feelings of a child, I shall
deeply regret the words," said Cecil, with gentle fervour—"I would
rather be your friend than your oppressor, as you will learn when
"No—no—you can never be a friend to
exclaimed the woman, shuddering; "the wife of Major Lincoln ought
never to serve the interests of Abigail Pray!"
The simpleton, who had apparently lain in dull indifference to what
was passing, raised himself now from among his rags, and said, with
"Major Lincoln's lady has come to see Job, because Job is a
"You are the child of sin and misery!" groaned Abigail, burying her
head in her cloak— "would that you had never seen the light of day!"
"Tell me, then, Job, whether Major Lincoln himself has paid you
this compliment, as well as I," said Cecil, without regarding the
conduct of the mother—"when did you see him last?"
"Perhaps I can put these questions in a more intelligible manner,"
said the stranger, with a meaning glance of his eye towards Cecil,
that she appeared instantly to comprehend. He turned then to Job,
whose countenance he studied closely, for several moments, before he
continued— "Boston must be a fine place for parades and shows,
young man; do you ever go to see the soldiers exercise?"
"Job always keeps time in the marchings," returned the simpleton;
"'tis a grand sight to see the grannies treading it off to the awful
sound of drums and trumpets!"
"And Ralph," said the other, soothingly— "does he march in their
"Ralph! he's a great warrior! he teaches the people their
trainings, out on the hills—Job sees him there every time he goes
for the Major's provisions."
"This requires some explanation," said the stranger.
"'Tis easily obtained," returned the observant Polwarth. "The young
man has been the bearer of certain articles, periodically, from the
country into the town, during the last six months, under the favour
of a flag."
The man mused a moment before he pursued the subject.
"When were you last among the rebels, Job?" he at length asked.
"You had best not call the people rebels," muttered the young man,
sullenly, "for they wont put up with bitter names!"
"I was wrong, indeed," said the stranger. "But when went you last
"Job got in last Sabba'day morning; and that's only yesterday!"
"How happened it, fellow, that you did not bring the articles to
me?" demanded Polwarth, with a good deal of impatient heat.
"He has unquestionably a sufficient reason for the apparent
neglect," said the cautious and soothing stranger. "You brought them
here, I suppose, for some good reason?"
"Ay! to feed his own gluttony!" muttered the irritated captain.
The mother of the young man clasped her hands together
convulsively, and made an effort to rise and speak, but she sunk again
into her humble posture, as if choked by emotions that were too
strong for utterance.
This short, but impressive pantomime was unnoticed by the stranger,
who continued his inquiries in the same cool and easy manner as
"Are they yet here?" he asked.
"Certain," said the unsuspecting simpleton;" "Job has hid them
'till Major Lincoln comes back. Both Ralph and Major Lincoln forgot
to tell Job what to do with the provisions."
"In that case I am surprised you did not pursue them with your
"Every body thinks Job's a fool," muttered the young man; "but he
knows too much to be lugging provisions out ag'in among the people.
Why!" he continued, raising himself, and speaking, with a bright
glare dancing across his eyes, that betrayed how much he prized the
envied advantage—"the Bay-men come down with cart-loads of things
to eat, while the town is filled with hunger!"
"True; I had forgotten they were gone out among the Americans—of
course they went under the flag that you bore in?"
"Job didn't bring any flag—insygns carry the flags! He brought a
turkey, a grand ham, and a little sa'ce—there wasn't any flag among
At the sound of these eatables, the captain pricked up his ears,
and he probably would have again violated the rigid rules of decorum,
had not the stranger continued his questions.
"I see the truth of all you say, my sensible fellow," he observed.
"It was easy for Ralph and Major Lincoln to go out by means of the
same privilege that you used to enter?"
"To be sure," muttered Job, who, tired of the questions, had
already dropped his head again among his blankets—"Ralph knows the
way— he's Boston born!"
The stranger turned to the attentive bride, and bowed, as if he
were satisfied with the result of his examination. Cecil understood
the expression of his countenance, and made a movement towards the
place where Abigail Pray was seated on a chest, betraying, by the
renewed rocking of her body, and the low groans that from time to time
escaped her, the agony of mind she endured.
"My first care," she said, speaking to the mother of Job, "shall be
to provide for your wants. After which I may profit by what we have
now gathered from your son."
"Care not for me and mine!" returned Abigail, in a tone of bitter
resignation; "the last blow is struck, and it behoves such as we to
bow our heads to it in submission. Riches and plenty could not save
your grandmother from the tomb, and perhaps Death may take pity, ere
long, on me. What do I say, sinner that I am! can I never bring my
rebellious heart to wait his time!"
Shocked at the miserable despair that the other exhibited, and
suddenly recollecting the similar evidences of a guilty life that the
end of Mrs. Lechmere had revealed, Cecil continued silent, in
sensitive distress. After a moment, to collect her thoughts, she said,
with the meekness of a Christian, united to the soothing gentleness
of her sex—
"We are surely permitted to administer to our earthly wants,
whatever may have been our transgressions. At a proper time I will not
be denied in my wish to serve you. Let us now go," she added,
addressing her unknown companion— then observing Polwarth making an
indication to advance to her assistance, she gently motioned him
back, and anticipated his offer, by saying, "I thank you, sir—but I
have Meriton, and this worthy man, besides my own maid without—I
will not further interfere with your particular objects."
As she spoke, she bestowed a melancholy, though sweet smile on the
captain, and left the tower and the building, before he could presume
to dispute her pleasure. Notwithstanding Cecil and her companion had
obtained from Job all that he could expect, or in fact had desired to
know, Polwarth lingered in the room, making those preparations that
should indicate an intention to depart. He found, at length, that his
presence was entirely disregarded by both mother and child. The one
was still sitting, with her head bowed to her bosom, abandoned to her
own sorrows, while the other had sunk into his customary dull
lethargy, giving no other signs of life than by his laboured and
audible breathing. The captain, for a moment, looked upon the misery
of the apartment, which wore a still more dreary aspect under the dull
light of the paltry candle, as well as at the disease and suffering
which were too plainly exhibited in the persons of its abject
tenants; but the glance at neither served to turn him from his
purpose. Temptation tion had beset the humble follower of Epicurus in
a form that never failed to subdue his most philosophic resolutions,
and, in this instance, it prevailed once more over his humanity.
Approaching the pallet of the simpleton, he spoke to him in a sharp
"You must reveal to me what you have done with the provisions with
which Mr. Seth Sage has entrusted you, young man—I cannot overlook
so gross a violation of duty, in a matter of such singular
importance. Unless you wish to have the grannies of the 18th back upon
you, speak at once, and speak truly."
Job continued obstinately silent, but Abigail raised her head, and
answered for her child—
"He has never failed to carry the things to the quarters of the
Major, whenever he got back. No, no—if my boy was so graceless as to
steal, it would not be him that he would rob!"
"I hope so—I hope so, good woman; but this is a sort of
temptation to which men yield easily in times of scarcity," returned
the impatient captain, who probably felt some inward tokens of his
own frailty in such matters.—"If they had been delivered would not I
have been consulted concerning their disposition! The young man
acknowledges that he quitted the American camp yesterday at an early
"No no" and Job, "Ralph made him come away on Saturda'-night. He
left the people without his dinner!"
"And repaid his loss by eating the stores! Is this your honesty,
"Ralph was in such a hurry that he wouldn't stop to eat. Ralph's a
proper warrior, but he doesn't seem to know how sweet it is to eat!"
"Glutton! gormandizer! Thou ostrich of a man!" exclaimed the angry
Polwarth—"is it not enough that you have robbed me of my own, but
you must make me more conscious of my loss by thy silly prating?"
"If you really suspect my child of doing wrong to his employers,"
said Abigail, "you know neither his temper nor his breeding. I will
answer for him, and with bitterness of heart do I say it, that
nothing in the shape of food has entered his mouth for many long and
weary hours. Hear you not his piteous longings for nourishment? God,
who knows all hearts, will hear and believe his cry!"
"What say you, woman!" cried Polwarth, aghast with horror, "not
eaten did you say!— Why hast thou not, unnatural mother, provided
for his wants—why has he not shared in your meals?"
Abigail looked up into his face with eyes that gleamed with
hopeless want, as she answered—
"Would I willingly see the child of my body perish of hunger! The
last crumb he had was all that was left me, and that came from the
hands of one, who, in better justice, should have sent me poison!"
"Nab don't know of the bone that Job found before the barracks,"
said the young man, feebly; "I wonder if the king knows how sweet
"And the provisions, the stores!" cried Polwarth, nearly
choking—"foolish boy, what hast thou done with the provisions?"
"Job knew the grannies couldn't find them under that oakum," said
the simpleton, raising himself to point out their place of
concealment, with silly exultation—"when Major Lincoln comes back,
may be he'll give Nab and Job the bones to pick!"
Polwarth was no sooner made acquainted with the situation of the
precious stores, than he tore them from their concealment, with the
violence of a maniac. As he separated the articles with an unsteady
nand, he rather panted than breathed; and during the short operation,
every feature in his honest face was working with extraordinary
emotion. Now and then he muttered in an under tone—"no food!"
"suffering of inanition!" or some such expressive exclamation, that
sufficiently explained the current of his thoughts. When all was
fairly exposed, he shouted, in a tremendous voice—
"Shearflint! thou rascal! Shearflint—where have you hidden
The reluctant menial knew how dangerous it was to hesitate
answering a summons uttered in such a voice, and while his master was
yet repeating his cries, he appeared at the door of the little
apartment, with a face expressive of the deepest attention.
"Light up the fire, thou prince of idlers!" Polwarth continued in
the same high strain; "here is food, and there is hunger! God be
praised that I am the man who is permitted to bring the two
acquainted! Here, throw on oakum—light up, light up!"
As these rapid orders were accompanied by a corresponding
earnestness of action, the servant, who knew his master's humour, sat
himself most diligently at work to comply. A pile of the tarred
combustible was placed on the dreary and empty hearth, and by a touch
of the candle it was lighted into a blaze. As the roar of the chimney,
and the bright glare were heard and seen, the mother and child both
turned their louging eyes towards the busy actors in the scene.
Polwarth threw aside his cane, and commenced slicing the ham with a
dexterity that denoted great practice, as well as an eagerness that
renewed the credit of his disgraced humanity.
"Bring wood—hand down that apology for a gridiren—make coals,
make coals at once, rascal," he said, at short intervals—"God
forgive me, that I should ever have meditated evil to one suffering
under the heaviest of curses!— D'ye hear, thou Shearffint! bring
more wood; I shall be ready for the fire in a minute."
"'Tis impossible, sir," said the worried domestic; "I have brought
the smallest chip there is to be found—wood is too precious in
Boston to be lying in the streets."
"Where do you keep your fuel, woman?" demanded the captain,
unconscious that he addressed her in the same rough strain that he
used to his menial—"I am ready to put down."
"You see it all, you see it all!" said Abigail, in the submissive
tones of a stricken conscience; "the judgment of God has not fallen on
"No wood! no provisions!" exclaimed Polwarth, speaking with
difficulty—then dashing his hand across his eyes, he continued to
his man, in a voice whose hoarseness he intended should conceal his
emotion—"thou villain, Shearflint, come hither—unstrap my leg."
The servant looked at him in wonder, but an impatient gesture
hastened his compliance.
"Split it into ten thousand fragments; 'tis seasoned and ready for
the fire. The best of them, they of flesh I mean, are but useless
incumbrances, after all! A cook wants hands, eyes, nose, and palate,
but I see no use for a leg!"
While he was speaking, the philosophic captain seated himself on
the hearth with great indifference, and by the aid of Shearflint, the
culinary process was soon in a state of forwardness.
"There are people," resumed the diligent Polwarth, who did not
neglect his avocation while speaking, "that eat but twice a-day; and
some who eat but once; though I never knew any man thrive who did not
supply nature in four substantial and regular meals. These sieges are
damnable visitations on humanity, and there should be plans invented
to conduct a war without them. The moment you begin to starve a
soldier, he grows tame and melancholy: feed him, and defy the devil!
How is it, my worthy fellow; do you like your ham running or dry?"
The savoury smell of the meat had caused the suffering invalid to
raise his feverish body, and he sat watching, with greedy looks, every
movement of his unexpected benefactor. His parched lips were already
working with impatience, and every glance of his glassy eye betrayed
the absolute dominion of physical want over his feeble mind. To this
question he made the simple and touching reply, of—
"Job isn't particular in his eating."
"Neither am I," returned the methodical gourmand, returning a piece
of the meat to the fire, that Job had already devoured in
imagination— "one would like to get it up well, notwithstanding the
hurry. A single turn more, and it will be fit for the mouth of a
prince. Bring hither that trencher, Shearflint—it is idle to be
particular about crockery in so pressing a case. Greasy scoundrel,
would you dish a ham in its gravy! What a nosegay it is, after all!
Come hither, help me to the bed."
"May the Lord, who sees and notes each kind thought of his
creatures, bless and reward you for this care of my forlorn boy!"
exclaimed Abigail, in the fullness of her heart; "but will it be
prudent to give such strong nourishment to one in a burning fever?"
"What else would you give, woman? I doubt not he owes his disease
to his wants. An empty stomach is like an empty pocket, a place for
the devil to play his gambols in. 'Tis your small doctor who prates
of a meager regimen. Hunger is a distemper of itself, and no
reasonable man, who is above listening to quackery, will believe it
can be a remedy. Food is the prop of life—and eating, like a crutch
to a maimed man—Shearflint, examine the ashes for the irons of my
supporter, and then dish a bit of the meat for the poor woman. Eat
away, my charming boy, eat away!" he continued, rubbing his hands in
honest delight, to see the avidity with which the famishing Job
received his boon. "The second pleasure in life is to see a hungry man
enjoy his meal. The first being more deeply seated in human nature.
This ham has the true Virginia flavour! Have you such a thing as a
spare trencher, Shearflint? It is so near the usual hour, I may as
well sup. It is rare, indeed, that a man enjoys two such luxuries at
The tongue of Polwarth ceased the instant Shearflint administered
to his wants; the warehouse, into which he had so lately entered with
such fell intent, exhibiting the strange spectacle of the captain,
sharing, with social communion, in the humble repast of its hunted and
"Sir Thurio, give us leave, I pray, awhile
"We have some secrets to confer about."
Two Gentlemen of Verona
During the preceding exhibition of riot and degradation, in the
dock-square, a very different state of things existed beneath the roof
of a proud edifice that stood in an adjacent street. As was usual at
that hour of the night, the windows of Province-house were brilliant
with lights, as if in mockery of the naked dreariness of the
neighbouring church, and every approach to that privileged residence
of the representative of royalty, was closely guarded by the vigilance
of armed men. Into this favoured dwelling it now becomes necessary to
remove the scene, in order to pursue the thread of our unpretending
Domestics, in rich military liveries, might be seen gliding from
room to room, in the hurry of a banquet—some bearing vessels of the
most generous wines into the apartment where Howe entertained the
leaders of the royal army, and others returning with the remnants of a
feast; which, though sumptuously served, having felt the scarcity of
the times, had offered more to the eyes than to the appetites of the
guests. Idlers, in the loose undress of their martial profession,
liotered through the balls, and many a wistful glance, or lingering
look followed the odorous scents, as humbler menials received the
viands to transport them into the more secret recesses of the
building. Notwithstanding the life and activity which prevailed, every
movement was conducted in silence and regularity; the whole of the
lively scene affording a happy illusstration of the virtues and
harmony of order.
Within the walls of that apartment to which every eye seemed
directed as to a common centre, in anticipation of the slightest wish
of those who revelled there, all was bright and cheerful. The hearth
knew no want of fuel; the coarser workmanship of the floor was hid
beneath rich and ample carpets, while the windows were nearly lost
within the sweeping folds of curtains of figured damask. Every thing
wore an air of exquisite comfort, blended with a species of careless
elegance. Even the most minute article of the furniture had been
transported from that distant country which was then thought to
monopolize all the cunning arts of handicraft, to administer to the
pleasures of those, who however careless of themselves in moments of
trial, courted the most luxurious indulgencies in their hours of ease.
Along the centre of this gay apartment was spread the hospitable
board of the entertainer. It was surrounded by men in the trappings of
high military rank, though here and there might he seen a guest,
whose plainer attire and dejected countenance, betrayed the presence
of one or two of those misjudging colonists, whose confidence in the
resistless power of the crown, began already to waver. The lieutenant
of the King held his wonted place at the banquet, his dark visage
expressing all the heartiness of a soldier's welcome, while he pointed
out this or that favourite amongst an abundant collection of wines,
that included the choicest liquors of Europe.
"For those who share the mess of a British general, you have
encountered rude fare to-day, gentlemen," he cried; "though, after
all, 'tis such as a British soldier knows how to fatten on, in the
service of his master. Fill, gentlemen; fill in loyal bumpers, for we
have neglected our allegiance."
Each glass now stood sparkling and overcharged with wine, when,
after a short and solemn pause, the host pronounced aloud, the
magical words—"The King."—Every voice echoed the name, after
which there literally succeeded a breathless pause; when an old man,
in the uniform of an officer of the fleet, first proving his loyalty
by flourishing on high his inverted glass, added, with hearty will—
"God bless him!"
"God bless him!" repeated the graceful leader, who has already been
more than once named in these pages; "and grant him a long and
glorious reign! and should there be no treason in the wish, in death,
a Grave like yourself, worthy admiral— `Sepulchrum sine sordibus
"Like me!" echoed the blunt seaman, whose learning was somewhat
impaired by hard and long service—"I am, it is true, none of your
cabinwindow gentry, but his majesty might stoop lower than by
favouring a faithful servant, like me, with his gracious presence."
"Your pardon, sir, I should have included, `permissum arbitrio."'
The equivoque had barely excited a smile, when the sedate
countenance of the commander-in-chief indicated that the subject was
too serious for a jest. Nor did the naval chieftain appear to relish
the unknown tongue; for quite as much, if not a little more offended
with the liberty taken with his own name, than with the privileged
person of the sovereign, he somewhat smartly retorted—
"Permitted or not permitted, I command the fleet of his majesty in
these waters, and it shall be noted as a cheerful day in our
log-books, when you gentlemen of the army dismiss us to our duty
again, on the high-seas. A sailor will grow as tired of doing
nothing, as ever a soldier did of work, and I like `elbow-room,' even
in my coffin ha, ha, ha—what d'ye think of that, master wit— ha,
ha, ha—what d'ye say to that?"
"Quite fair, well deserved, and cuttingly severe, admiral,"
returned the undisturbed soldier, smiling with perfect
self-possession, as he sipped his wine. "But as you find confinement
and leisure so irksome, I will presume to advise your seizing some of
these impudent Yankees who look into the port so often, not only
robbing us of our stores, but offending so many loyal eyes with their
"I command a parley to be beaten," interrupted the
commander-in-chief, "and a truce to further hostilities. Where all
have done their duty, and have done it so well, even wit must respect
their conduct. Let me advise you to sound the contents of that
dusty-looking bottle, Mr. Graves; I think you will approve the
situation as an anchorage for the night."
The honest old seaman instantly drowned his displeasure in a glass
of the generous liquor, and smacking his lips after the potations, for
he repeated the first on the moment, he exclaimed—
"Ah! you are too stationary, by half, to stir up the soul of your
liquors. Wine should never slumber on its lees until it has been well
rolled in the trough of a sea for a few months; then, indeed, you may
set it asleep, and yourself by the side of it, if you like a cat's
"As orthodox a direction for the ripening of wine as was ever given
by a bishop to his butler!" exclaimed his adversary. Another
significant glance from his dark-looking superior, again checked his
wilful playfulness, when Howe profited by the silence, to say with the
frank air of a liberal host—
"As motion is, just now, denied us, the only means I can devise, to
prevent my wine from slumbering on its lees, is to drink it."
"Besides which, we are threatened with a visit from Mr. Washington,
and his thirsty followers, who may save us all trouble in the matter,
unless we prove industrious. In such a dilemma, Mr. Graves will not
hesitate to pledge me in a glass, though it should be only to
disappoint the rebels!" added Burgoyne, making a graceful inclination
to the half-offended seaman.
"Ay, ay, I would do much more disagreeable things to cheat the
rascals of their plunder," returned the mollified admiral,
good-naturedly nodding his head before he swallowed his bumper— "If
there be any real danger of the loss of such liquid amber as this,
'twould be as well to send it along-side my ship, and I will hoist it
in, and find it a birth, though it shares my own cott. I believe I
command a fortress which neither Yankee, Frenchman, nor Don, would
like to besiege, unless at a respectful distance."
The officers around him looked exceedingly grave, exchanging
glances of great meaning, though all continued silent, as if the
common subject of their meditations was too delicate to be loudly
uttered in such a presence. At length the second in command, who still
felt the coldness of his superior, and who had, hitherto, said nothing
during the idle dialogue, ventured a remark, with the gravity and
distance of a man who was not certain of his welcome.
"Our enemies grow bold as the season advances," he said, "and it is
past a doubt that they will find us employment in the coming summer.
It cannot be denied but they conduct themselves with great steadiness
in all their batteries, especially in this last, at the water-side;
nor am I without apprehension that they will yet get upon the islands,
and render the situation of the shipping hazardous."
"Get upon the islands! drive the fleet from their anchors!"
exclaimed the veteran sailor, in undisguised amazement; "I shall
account it a happy day for England, when Washington and his rabble
trust themselves within reach of our shot!"
"God grant us a chance at the rascals with the bayonet in the open
field," cried Howe, "and an end of these winter-quarters! I say
winter-quarters, for I trust no gentleman can consider this army as
besieged by a mob of armed peasants! We hold the town, and they the
country; but when the proper time shall come—well, sir, your
pleasure," he continued, interrupting himself to speak to an upper
servant at his elbow.
The man, who had stood for more than a minute, in an attitude of
respectful attention, anxious to catch the eye of his master, muttered
his message in a low and hurried voice, as if unwilling to be heard
by others, and at the same time conscious of the impropriety of
whispering. Most of those around him turned their heads in polite
indifference, but the old sailor, who sat too near to be totally deaf,
had caught the words, "a lady," which was quite enough to, provoke
all his merriment, after such a free indulgence of the bottle.
Striking his hand smartly on the table, he exclaimed, with a freedom
that no other present could have presumed to use—
"A sail! a sail! by George a sail! under what colours, friend;
king's, or rebels? Here has been a blunder, with a vengeance! The
cook has certainly been too late, or the lady is too early! ha, ha,
ha—Oh! you are wicked, free livers in the army!"
The tough old tar enjoyed his joke exceedingly, chuckling with
inward delight at his discovery. He was, however, alone in his
merriment, none of the soldiers venturing to understand his
allusions, any further than by exchanging a few stolen looks of
unusual archness. Howe bit his lips, with obvious vexation, and
sternly ordered the man to repeat his errand in a voice that was more
"A lady," said the trembling menial, "wishes to see your
excellency, and she waits your pleasure, sir, in the library."
"Among his books, too!" shouted the admiral— "that would have
better become you, my joking friend! I say, young man, is the girl
young and handsome?"
"By the lightness of her step, sir, I should think her young; but
her face was concealed under a hood."
"Ay! ay! the jade comes hooded into the house of the king! Damn me,
Howe, but modesty is getting to be a rare virtue amongst you
gentlemen on shore!"
"'Tis a plain case against you, sir, for even the servant, as you
find, has detected that she is light of carriage," said the smiling
Burgoyne, making a half motion towards rising. "It is probably some
applicant for relief, or for permission to depart the place. Suffer me
to see her, and spare yourself the pain of a refusal?"
"Not at all," said Howe, gaining his feet with an alacrity that
anticipated the more deliberate movement of the other—"I should be
unworthy of the trust I hold, could I not lend an occasional ear to a
petition. Gentlemen, as there is a lady in the case, I presume to
trespass on your indulgence. Admiral, I commend you to my butler, who
is a worthy fellow, and can give you all the cruises of the bottle
before you, since it left the island of Madeira."
He inclined his head to his guests, and passed from the room with a
hurried step, that did not altogether consult appearances. As he
proceeded through the hall, his ears were saluted by another burst
from the hearty old seaman, who, however, enjoyed his humour alone,
the rest of the party immediately turning to other subjects, with
well-bred dullness. On entering the room already mentioned, Howe found
himself in the presence of the female, who, notwithstanding their
apparent indifference, was at that very moment occupying the
thoughts, and exercising the ingenuity of every man he had left behind
him. Advancing at once to the centre of the apartment, with the ease
and freedom of a soldier who felt himself without a superior, he
asked, with a politeness somewhat equivocal—
"Why am I favoured with this visit? and why has a lady whose
appearance shows she might command friends at any time, assumed this
"Because I am a supplicant for a favour that might be denied to one
who petitioned coldly," returned a soft, tremulous voice, deep within
the covering of a silken calash. "As time is wanting to observe the
usual forms of applications I have presumed to come in person, to
"And surely, one like you, can have little reason to dread a
repulse," said Howe, with an attempt at gallantry, that would have
better become the man who had offered to be his substitute. While
speaking he advanced a step nigher to the lady, and pointing to her
hood, he continued—"Would it not be wise to aid your request, with
a view of a countenance that I am certain can speak better than any
words—whom have I the honour to receive, and what may be the nature
of her business?"
"A wife who seeks her husband," returned the female, dropping the
folds of her calash, and exposing to his steady eyes, the commanding
loveliness of the chaste countenance of Cecil The sudden annunciation
of her character was forced from the lips of the unclaimed bride, by
the freedom of a gaze to which she was unused; but the instant she had
spoken, her eyes fell on the floor in embarrassment, and she stood
deeply blushing at the strength of her own language, though preserving
all the apparent composure and dignity of female pride. The English
general regarded her beauty for a moment, with a pleased, though
doubting eye, before he continued—
"Is he whom you seek within or without the town?"
"I much fear, without!"
"And you would follow him into the camp of the rebels? This is a
case that may require some deliberation. I feel assured I entertain a
lady of great beauty; might I, in addition, know how to address her?"
"For my name I can have no reason to blush," said Cecil,
proudly—" 'tis noble in the land of our common ancestors, and may
have reached the ears of Mr. Howe—I am the child of the late colonel
"The niece of Lord Cardonnell!" exclaimed her auditor, in
amazement, instantly losing the equivoeal freedom of his manner in an
air of deep respect—"I have long known that Boston contained such a
lady; nor do I forget that she is accused of concealing herself from
the attentions of the army, like one of the most obdurate of our
foes—attentions which every man in the garrison would be happy to
show her, from myself down to the lowest ensign—do me the honour to
Cecil bowed her acknowledgments, but continued standing—
"I have neither time nor spirits to defend myself from such an
imputation," she answered— "though should my own name prove no
passport to your favour, I must claim it in behalf of him I seek."
"Should he be the veriest rebel in the train of Washington, he has
great reason to be proud of his fortune!"
"So far from ranking among the enemies of the king, he has already
been lavish of his blood in behalf of the crown," returned Cecil,
unconsciously raising the calash again, with maiden bashfulness, as
she felt the moment was approaching when she must declare the name of
the man, whose influence over her feelings she had already avowed.
"And he is called?"
The answer was given to this direct question, in a low but distinct
voice. Howe started when he heard the well-known name of an officer of
so much consideration, though a meaning smile lighted his dark
features, as he repeated her words in surprise—
"Major Lincoln! his refusal to return to Europe, in search of
health, is then satisfactorily explained! Without the town did you
say! there must be some error."
"I fear it is too true!"
The harsh features of the leader contracted again into their
sternest look, and it was apparent how much he was disturbed by the
"This is presuming too far on his privilege," he muttered in an
under tone.—"Left the place, say you, without my knowledge and
approbation, young lady?"
"But on no unworthy errand!" cried the almost breathless Cecil,
instantly losing sight of herself in her anxiety for Lionel—"private
sorrows have driven him to an act, that, at another time, he would be
the first to condemn, as a soldier."
Howe maintained a cool, but threatening silence, that was far more
appalling than any words could be. The alarmed wife gazed at his
lowering face for a minute, as if to penetrate his secret thoughts,
then yielding, with the sensitiveness of a woman, to her worst
apprehensions, she cried—
"Oh! you would not avail yourself of this confession to do him
harm! Has he not bled for you; lingered for months on the verge of the
grave, in defence of your cause; and will you now doubt him! Nay,
sir, though chance and years may have subjected him, for a time, to
your controul, he is every way your equal, and will confront each
charge before his Royal Master, let who may bring them against his
" 'Twill be necessary," the other coldly replied.
"Nay, hearken not to my weak, unmeaning words," continued Cecil,
wringing her hands, in doubting distress; "I know not what I say, He
has your permission to hold intercourse with the country weekly?"
"For the purpose of obtaining the supplies necessary to his past
"And may he not have gone on such an errand, and under favour of
the flag you yourself have cheerfully accorded?"
"In such a case would I not have been spared the pain of this
Cecil paused a moment, and seemed collecting her scatiered
faculties, and preparing her mind for some serious purpose. After a
little time, she attempted a painful smile, saying, more calmly—
"I had presumed too far on military indulgence, and was even weak
enough to believe the request would be granted to my name and
"No name, no situation, no circumstances, can ever render"—
"Speak not the cruel words, least they once more drive me from my
recollection," interrupted Cecil. "First hear me, sir—listen to a
wife and a daughter, and you will recall the cruel sentence."
Without waiting for a reply, she advanced with a firm and proud
step to the door of the room, passing her astonished companion with an
eye and a face beaming with the fullness of her object. In the outer
passage, she beckoned from among the loiterers in the hall, to the
stranger who had accompanied her in the visit to the warehouse, and
when he had approached, and entered the room, the door once more
closed, leaving the spectators without, wondering whence such a
vision of purity could have made its way within the sullied walls of
Many long and impatient minutes were passed by the guests in the
banqueting-room, during the continuance of this mysterious interview.
The jests of the admiral began to flag, just as his companions were
inclined to think they were most merited, and the conversation assumed
that broken and disjointed character which betrays the wandering of
the speakers' thoughts.
At length a bell rang, and orders came from the commander-in-chief,
to clear the hall of its curious idlers. When none were left but the
regular domestics of the family, Howe appeared, supporting Cecil,
closely hooded, to the conveyance that awaited her presence at the
gate. The air of their master communicated a deep respect to the
manners of the observant menials, who crowded about their persons, to
aid the departure, with officious zeal. The amazed sentinels dropped
their arms, with the usual regularity, to their chieftain, as he
passed to the outer portal in honour of his unknown companion, and
eyes met the expressive glances of eyes, as all who witnessed the
termination of this visit, sought in the countenances of those around
them, some solution of its object.
When Howe resumed his seat at the table, another attempt was made
by the admiral to renew the subject; but it was received with an air
so cold, and a look so pointedly severe, that even the careless son of
the ocean forgot his humour under the impression of so dark a frown.
"Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
"Announced their march—"
Cecil suffered the night to advance a little, before she left
Tremont-street, to profit by the permission to leave the place, her
communication had obtained from the English general. It was, however,
far from late when she took leave of Agnes, and commenced her
expedition, still attended by Meriton and the unknown man, with whom
she has already, more than once, made her appearance in our pages. At
the lower part of the town she left her vehicle, and pursuing the
route of several devious and retired streets, soon reached the margin
of the water. The wharves were deserted and still. Indicating the
course by her own light and hurried footsteps, to her companions, the
youthful bride moved unhesitatingly along the rough planks, until her
progress was checked by a large basin, between two of the ordinary
wooden piers which line the shores of the place. Here she paused for a
moment, in doubt, as if fearful there had been some mistake, when the
figure of a boy was seen advancing out of the shadows of a
"I fear you have lost your way," he said, when within a few feet of
her, where he stood, apparently examining the party with rigid
scrutiny. "May I venture to ask whom or what you seek?"
"One who is sent hither, on private duty, by orders from the
"I see but two," returned the lad, hesitating— "where is the
"He lingers in the distance," said Cecil, pointing to Meriton,
whose footsteps were much more guarded than those of his mistress.
"Three is our number, and we are all present."
"I beg a thousand pardons," returned the youth, dropping the folds
of a sailor's over-coat, under which he had concealed the
distinguishing marks of a naval dress, and raising his hat at the
same moment, with great respect; "my orders were to use the utmost
precaution, ma'am, for, as you hear, the rebels sleep but little
" 'Tis a dreadful scene I leave, truly, sir," returned Cecil, "and
the sooner it will suit your convenience to transport us from it, the
greater will be the obligation you are about to confer."
The youth once more bowed, in submission to her wishes, and
requested the whole party to follow whither he should lead. A very few
moments brought them to a pair of water-stairs, where, under cover of
the duskiness thrown upon the basin from the wharf, a boat lay
concealed, in perfect readiness to receive them.
"Be stirring boys!" cried the youth, in a tone of authority; "ship
your oars as silently as it stealing away from an enemy. Have the
goodness, ma'am, to enter, and you shall have a quick and safe
landing on the other shore, whatever may be the reception of the
Cecil and her two attendants complied without delay, when the boat
glided into the stream with a velocity that promised a speedy
verification of the words of the midshipman The most profound
stillness reigned among these nocturnal adventurers, and by the time
they had rowed a short distance, the bride began to lose an immediate
consciousness of her situation, in contemplation of the scene.
The evening was already milder, and by one of those sudden changes,
peculiar to the climate, it was rapidly becoming even bland and
pleasant. The light of a clear moon fell upon the town and harbour,
rendering the objects of both visible, in mellowed softness. The huge
black hulls of the vessles of war, rested sullenly on the waters, like
slumbering leviathans, without even a sail or a passing boat, except
their own, to enliven the view in the direction of the port. On the
other hand, the hills of the town rose, in beautiful relief, against
the clear sky, with here and there a roof or a steeple reflecting the
pale light of the moon. The bosom of the place was as quiet as if its
inhabitants were buried in midnight sleep, but behind the hills, in a
circuit extending from the works on the heights of Charlestown, to the
neck, which lay in open view of the boat, there existed all the
evidences of furious warfare. During the few preceding nights the
Americans had been more than commonly diligent in the use of their
annoyances, but now they appeared to expend their utmost energies
upon their enemies. Still they spared the town, directing the weight
of their fire at the different batteries which protected the
approaches to the place, as already described, along the western
borders of the peninsula.
The ears of Cecil had long been accustomed to the uproar of arms,
but this was the first occasion in which she was ever a witness of the
mingled beauties and terrors of a cannonade at night. Suffering the
calash to fall, she shook back the dark tresses from her face, and
leaning over the sides of the little vessel, listened to the bursts
of the artillery, and gazed on the sudden flashes of vivid light that
mocked the dimmer illumination of the planet, with an absorbed
attention that momentarily lured her into forgetfulness. The men
pulled their light boat with muffled oars, and so still was its
progress, that there were instants when even the shot might be heard
rattling among the ruins they had made.
"It's amazement to me, madam," said Meriton, "that so many British
generals, and brave gentlemen as there is in Boston, should stay in
such a little spot to be shot at by a parcel of countrymen, when
there is Lon'non, as still and as safe, at this blessed moment, as a
parish church-yard, at midnight!"
Cecil raised her eyes at this interruption, and perceived the youth
gazing at her countenance in undisguised admiration of its beauty.
Blushing, and once more concealing her features beneath her calash,
she turned away from the view of the conflict, in silence.
"The rebels are free with their gunpowder tonight!" said the
midshipman.—"Some of their cruisers have picked up another of our
storeships, I fancy, or Mr. Washington would not make such a noisy
time of it, when all honest people should be thinking of their sleep.
Don't you believe, Ma'am, if the admiral would warp three or four of
our heaviest ships up into the channel, back of the town, it would be
a short method of lowering the conceit of these Yankees?"
"Really, sir, I am so little acquainted with military matters,"
returned Cecil, suffering her anxious features to relax into a smile,
"that my opinion, should I venture to give one, would be utterly
"Why, young gentleman," said Meriton, "the rebels drove a galley
out of the river, a night or two ago, as I can testify myself, having
stood behind a large brick store, where I saw the whole affair, most
"A very fit place for one like you, no doubt, sir," returned the
midshipman, without attempting to conceal his disgust at so
impertinent an interruption— "do you know what a galley is, Ma'am?
nothing but a small vessel cut down, with a few heavy guns, I do
assure you. It would be a very different affair with a frigate or a
two-decker! Do but observe what a charming thing our ship is,
Ma'am—I am sure so beautiful a lady must know how to admire a
handsome ship!— she lies here-away, nearly in a range with the
To please the earnest youth, Cecil bent her head toward the quarter
he wished, and murmured a few words in approbation of his taste. But
the impatient boy had narrowly watched the direction of her eyes, and
she was interrupted by his exclaiming in manifest disappointment—
"What! that shapeless hulk, just above the castle! she is an old
Dutch prize, en flute, ay, older than my grandmother, good old soul;
and it wouldn't matter the value of a piece of junk; into which end
you stepped her bowsprit! One of my school-fellows, Jack Willoughby,
is a reefer on board her; and he says that they can just get six
knots out of her, on her course in smooth water with a fresh breeze,
allowing seven knot for lee-way! Jack means to get rid of her the
moment he can catch the admiral running large, for the Graves's live
near the Willoughbys' in town, and he knows all the soundings about
the old man's humour. No, no, Ma'am, Jack would give every shot in his
lockers to swing a hammock between two of the beams of our ship. Do
excuse me, one moment;"— presuming to take one of the hands of
Cocil, though with sufficient delicacy, as he pointed out his
favourite vessel—"There, Ma'am, now you have her! She that's so
taunt rigged, with a flying-jibboom, and all her top-gallant-yards
stopped to her lower rigging—we send them down every night at
gun-fire, and cross them again next morning as regularly as the bell
strikes eight.— Isn't she a sweet thing, Ma'am? for I see she has
caught your eye at last, and I am sure you can't wish to look at any
other ship in port."
Cecil could not refuse her commendations to this eloquent appeal,
though at the next moment she would have been utterly at a loss to
distinguish the much-admired frigate from the despised store-ship.
"Ay, ay, Madam, I knew you would like her when you once got a fair
glimpse at her proportions," continued the delighted boy; "though she
is not half so beautiful on her broadside, as when you can catch her
lasking, especially on her larboard bow—pull, long and strong, men,
and with a light touch of the water—these Yankees have ears as long
as borricoes, and we are getting in with the land. This set-down at
Dorchester's neck will give you a long walk, Ma'am, to Cambridge; but
there was no possibility of touching the rebels any where else
to-night, or, as you see, we should have gone right into the face of
"Is it not a little remarkable," said Cecil, willing to pay the
solicitude of the boy to amuse her, by some reply, "that the
colonists, while they invest the town so closely on the north and
west, should utterly neglect to assail it on the south; for I believe
they have never occupied the hills in Dorchester at all; and yet it is
one of the points nearest to Boston!"
"It is no mystery at all!" returned the boy, shaking his head with
all the sagacity of a veteran— "it would bring another Bunker-hill
about their ears; for you see it is the same thing at this end of the
place that Charlestown neck is at the other! a light touch, men, a
light touch!" he continued, dropping his voice as they approached the
shore; "besides, Ma'am, a fort on that hill could throw its shot
directly on our decks, a thing the old man would never submit to; and
that would either bring on a regular hammering match, or a general
clearing out of the fleet; and then what would become of the
army!—No, no—the Yankees wouldn't risk driving the cod-fish out of
their bay, to try such an experiment! Lay on your oars, boys, while I
take a squint along this shore, to see if there are any Jonathans
cooling themselves near the beach, by moon-light."
The obedient seamen rested from their labours, while their youthful
officer stood up in the boat and directed a small night-glass over the
intended place of landing. The examination proved entirely
satisfactory, and in a low, cautions voice, he ordered the men to
pull into a place where the shadow of the hills might render the
landing still less likely to be observed.
From this moment the most profound silence was observed, the boat
advancing swiftly, though under perfect command, to the desired spot,
where it was soon heard grazing upon the bottom, as it gradually lost
its motion, and finally became stationary. Cecil was instantly
assisted to the land, whither she was followed by the midshipman, who
jumped upon the shore, with great indifference, and approached the
passenger, from whom he was now about to part—
"I only hope that those you next fall in with, may know how to
treat you as well as those you leave," said the boy, approaching, and
offering his hand, with the frankness of an older seaman, to
Cecil—"God bless you, my dear Ma'am; I have two little sisters at
home, nearly as handsome as yourself, and I never see a woman in want
of assistance, but I think of the poor girls I've left in old
England—God bless you, once more—I hope when we meet again, you
will take a nearer view of the"—
"You are not likely to part so soon as you imagine," exclaimed a
man, springing on his feet, from his place of concealment behind a
rock, and advancing rapidly on the party—"offer the least
resistance, and you are all dead."
"Shove off, men, shove off, and don't mind me!" cried the youth,
with admirable presence of mind.—"For God's sake, save the boat, if
you die for it!"
The seamen obeyed with practised alacrity, when the boy darted
after them with the lightness of his years, and making a despearate
leap, caught the gunwale of the barge, into which he was instantly
drawn by the sailors. A dozen armed men had by this time reached the
edge of the water, and as many muskets were pointed at the retreating
party, when he who had first spoken, cried—
"Not a trigger! the boy has escaped us, and he deserves his
fortune! Let us secure those who remain; but if a single gun be fired
it will only draw the attention of the flect and castle."
His companions, who had acted with the hesitation of men that were
not assured the course they took was correct, willingly dropped the
muzzles of their pieces, and in another instant the boat was
ploughing its way towards the much-admired frigate, at a distance
which would probably have rendered their fire quite harmless. Cecil
had hardly breathed during the short period of uncertainty. but when
the sudden danger was passed, she prepared herself to receive their
captors, with the perfect confidence which an American woman seldom
fails to feel in the mildness and reason of her countrymen. The whole
party, who now approached her, were dressed in the ordinary
habiliments of husbandmen, mingled, in a slight degree, with the more
martial accountrements of soldiers. They were armed with muskets only,
which they wielded like men acquainted with all the uses of the
weapon, at the same time that they were unaccustomed to the mere
manual of the troops.
Every fibre of the body of Meriton, however, shook with fear, as he
found this unexpected guard encircling their little party, nor did the
unknown man who had accompanied them appear entirely free from
apprehension. The bride still maintained her self-possession,
supported either by her purpose, or her greater familiarity with the
character of the people into whose hands she had fallen.
When the whole party were posted within a few feet of them, they
dropped the butts of their muskets on the ground, and stood patient
listeners to the ensuing examination. The leader of the party, who
was only distinguished from his companions by a green cockade in his
hat, which Cecil had heard was the symbol of a subaltern officer
among the American troops, addressed her in a calm, but steady tone—
"It is unpleasant to question a woman," he said, "and especially
one of your appearance: but duty requires it of me. What brings you
to this unfrequented point, in the boat of a king's ship, and at this
unusual hour of the night?"
"I come with no intent to conceal my visit from any eyes," returned
Cecil; "for my first wish is to be conducted to some officer of rank,
to whom I will explain my object. There are many that I should know,
who will not hesitate to believe my words."
"We none of us profess to doubt your truth; we only act with
caution, because it is required by circumstances—cannot the
explanation be made to me; for I dislike the duty that causes trouble
to a female?"
"'Tis impossible!" said Cecil, involuntarily shrinking within the
folds of her mantle.
"You come at a most unfortunate moment," said the other, musing,
"and I fear you will pass an uneasy night, in consequence. By your
tongue, I think you are an American?"
"I was born among those roofs, which you may see on the opposite
"Then we are of the same town," returned the officer, stepping back
in a vain attempt to get a glimpse of those features which were
concealed beneath the hood. He made no attempt, however, to remove
the silk, nor did he in the slightest manner convey any wish of a
nature that might be supposed to wound the delicacy of her sex; but
finding himself unsuccessful, he turned away, as he added—"and I
grow tired of remaining where I can see the smoke of my own chimneys,
at the same time I know that strangers are seated around the hearths
"None wish more fervently than I, that the moment had arrived when
each might enjoy his own, in peace and quietness."
"Let the parliament repeal their laws, and the king recall his
troops," said one of the men, "and there will be an end of the
struggle at once. We don't fight because we love to shed blood!"
"He would do both, friend, if the counsel of one so insignificant
as I, could find weight in his royal mind."
"I believe there is not much difference between a royal mind and
that of any other man, when the devil gets hold of it!" bluntly
exclaimed another of the party. "I've a notion the imp is as
mischievous with a king as with a cobbler!"
"Whatever I may think of the conduct of his ministers," said Cecil,
coldly, "'tis unpleasant to me to discuss the personal qualities of my
"Why, I meant no offence; though when the truth is uppermost in a
man's thoughts, he is apt to let it out," returned the soldier. After
this uncouth apology, he continued silent, turning away like one who
felt dissatisfied with himself for what he had done.
In the mean time the leader had been consulting with one or two of
his men aside. He now advanced again, and delivered the result of
their united wisdom.
"Under all circumstances, I have concluded," he said, speaking in
the first person, in deference to his rank, though in fact he had
consented to change his own opinion at the instigation of his
advisers, "to refer you for information to the nearest general
officer, under the care of these two men, who will show you the way.
They both know the country, and there is not the least danger of
their mistaking the road."
Cecil bowed, in entire submission to this characteristic intimation
of his pleasure, and declared her anxiety to proceed. The officer held
another short consultation with the two guides, which soon terminated
by his issuing orders to the rest of the detachment to prepare to
depart. Before they separated, one of the guides, or, more properly,
guards, approached Meriton, and said, with a deliberation that might
easily be mistaken for doubt—
"As we shall be only two to two, friend, will it not be as well to
see what you have got secreted about your person, as it may prevent
any hard words or difficulties hereafter. "You will see the reason of
the thing, I trust, and make no objection."
"Not at all, sir, not at all!" returned the trembling valet,
producing his purse, without a moment's hesitation; "it is not heavy,
but what there is in it, is of the best English gold; which I expect
is much regarded among you who see nothing but rebel paper!"
"Much as we set store by it, we do not choose to rob for it,"
returned the soldier, with cool contempt. "I wish to look for weapons,
and not for money."
"But sir, as I unluckily have no weapons, had you not better take
my money? there are ten good guineas, I do assure you; and not a light
one among them all, 'pon honour! besides several pieces of silver."
"Come, Allen," said the other soldier, laughing, "it's no great
matter whether that gentleman has arms or not, I believe. His comrade
here, who seems to know rather better what he is about, has none, at
any rate; and for one of two men, I am willing to trust the other."
"I do assure you," said Cecil, "that our intentions are peaceable,
and that your charge will prove in no manner difficult."
The men listened to the earnest tones of her sweet voice with much
deference, and in a few moments the two parties separated, to proceed
on their several ways. While the main body of the soldiers ascended
the hill, the guides of Cecil took a direction which led them around
its base. Their route lay towards the low neck which connected the
heights with the adjacent country, and their progress was both
diligent and rapid. Cecil was often consulted as to her ability to
endure the fatigue, and repeated offers were made to accommodate
their speed to her wishes. In every other respect she was totally
disregarded by the guides, who, however, paid much closer attention to
her companions, each soldier attaching himself to one of her
followers, whom he constantly regarded with a watchful and wary eye.
"You seem cold, friend," said Allen to Meriton, "though I should
call the night quite pleasant for the first week in March!"
"Indeed I'm starved to the bones!" returned the valet, with a
shivering that would seem to verify his assertion.—"It's a very
chilly climate is this of America, especially of nights! I never
really felt such a remarkable dampness about the throat before,
within memory, I do assure you."
"Here is another handkerchief," said the soldier, throwing him a
common 'kerchief from his pocket—"wrap it round your neck, for it
gives me an ague to hear your teeth knocking one another about so."
"I thank you, sir, a thousand times," said Meriton, producing his
purse again, with an instinctive readiness—"what may be the price?"
The man pricked up his ears, and dropping his musket from the
guarded position in which he had hitherto carried it, he drew closer
to the side of his prisoner, in a very companionable way, as he
"I did not calculate on selling the article; but if you have need
of it, I wouldn't wish to be hard."
"Shall I give you one guinea, or two, Mr. Rebel?" asked Meriton,
whose faculties were utterly confounded by his terror.
"My name is Allen, friend, and we like civil language in the Bay,"
said the soldier. "Two guineas for a pocket-handkerchief! I couldn't
think of imposing on any man so much!"
"What shall it be then, half a guinea, or four half-crown pieces?"
"I didn't at all calculate to part with the handkerchief when I
left home—its quite new, as you can see by holding it up, in this
manner, to the moon—besides, you know, now there is no trade, these
things come very high.—Well, if you are disposed to buy, I dont wish
to crowd; you may take it, finally, for the two crowns."
Meriton dropped the money into his hands, without hesitation, and
the soldier pocketed the price, perfectly satisfied with his bargain
and himself, since he had sold his goods at a clear profit of about
three hundred per cent. He soon took occasion to whisper to his
comrade, that in his opinion "he had made a good trade," and laying
their heads together, they determined that the bargain was by no means
a bad wind-fall. On the other hand, Meriton, who knew the difference
in value between cotton and silk, quite as well as his American
protectors, was equally well satisfied with the arrangement; though
his contentment was derived from a very different manner of reasoning.
From early habit, he had long been taught to believe that every
civility, like patriotism in the opinion of Sir Robert Walpole, had
its price; and his fears had rendered him somewhat careless about the
amount of the purchase-money. He now considered himself as having a
clear claim on the protection of his guard, and his apprehensions
gradually subsided into security under the soothing impression.
By the time this satisfactory bargain was concluded, and each party
was lawfully put in possession of his own, they had reached the low
land already mentioned as the "neck." Suddenly the guard stopped, and
bending forward, in the attitude of deep attention, they seemed to
listen, intently, to some faint and distant sounds that were, for
moments, audible in the intervals of the cannonade.
"They are coming," said one to the other; "shall we go on, or wait
until they've passed?"
The question was answered in a whisper, and, after a short
consultation, they determined to proceed.
The attention of Cecil had been attracted by this conference, and
the few words which had escaped her guides; and, for the first time,
she harboured some little dread as to her final destination. Full of
the importance of her errand, the bride now devoted every faculty to
detect the least circumstance that might have a tendency to defeat
it. She trode so lightly on the faded herbage as to render her own
footsteps inaudible, and more than once she was about to request the
others to imitate her example, that no danger might approach them
unexpectedly. At length her doubts were relieved, though her wonder
was increased, by distinctly hearing the lumbering sounds of wheels on
the frozen earth, as if innumerable groaning vehicles were advancing
with slow and measured progress. In another instant her eyes assisted
the organs of hearing, and by the aid of the moon her doubts, if not
her apprehensions, were entirely removed.
Her guards now determined on a change of purpose, and withdrew with
their prisoners within the shadow of an apple tree that stood on the
low land, but a few paces from the line of the route evidently taken
by the approaching vehicles. In this position they remained for
several minutes, attentive observers of what was passing around them.
"Our men have woke up the British by their fire," said one of the
guards; "and all their eyes are turned to the batteries!"
"Yes, it's very well as it is," returned his comrade; "but if the
old brass congress mortar hadn't gi'n way yesterday, there would be a
different sort of roaring. Did you ever see the old congress?"
"I can't say I ever saw the cannon itself, but I have seen the
bombs fifty times; and pokerish-looking things they be, especially in
a dark night—but hush, here they come."
A large body of men now approached, and moved swiftly past them, in
deepest silence, defiling at the foot of the hills, and marching
towards the shores of the peninsula. The whole of this party was
attired and accoutred much in the fashion of those who had received
Cecil. One or two who were mounted, and in more martial trappings,
announced the presence of some officers of higher rank. At the very
heels of this detachment of soldiers, came a great number of carts,
which took the route that led directly up to the neighbouring heights.
After these came another, and more numerous body of troops, who
followed the teams, the whole moving in the profoundest stillness, and
with the diligence of men who were engaged in the most important
undertaking. In the rear of the whole, another collection of carts
appeared, groaning under the weight of large bundles of hay, and
other military preparations of defence. Before this latter division
left the low land, immense numbers of the closely-packed bundles were
tumbled to the ground, and arranged, with a quickness almost magical,
in such a manner as to form a light breast-work across the low
ground, which would otherwise have been completely exposed to be
swept by the shot of the royal batteries; a situation of things that
was believed to have led to the catastrophe of Breeds, the preceding
Among the last of those who crossed the neck, was an officer on
horse-back, whose eye was attracted by the group who stood as idle
spectators under the tree. Pointing out the latter object to those
around him, he rode nigher to the party, and leaned forward in his
saddle to examine their persons—
"How's this!" he exclaimed—"a woman and two men under the charge
of sentinels! Have we then more spies among us—cut away the tree,
men; we have need of it, and let in the light of the moon upon them!"
The order was hardly given before it was executed, and the tree
felled with a despatch that, to any but an American, would appear
incredible. Cecil stepped aside from the impending branches, and by
moving into the light, betrayed the appearance of a gentlewoman by
her mien and apparel.
"Here must be some mistake!" continued the officer—"why is the
lady thus guarded?"
One of the soldiers, in a few words, explained the nature of her
arrest, and in return received directions, anew, how to proceed. The
mounted officer now put spurs into his horse, and galloped away, in
eager pursuit of more pressing duties, though he still looked behind
him, so long as the deceptive light enabled him to distinguish either
form or features.
"'Tis advisable to go on the heights," said the soldier, "where we
may find the commanding general."
"Any where," returned Cecil, confused with the activity and bustle
that had passed before her eyes, "or any thing, to be relieved from
this distressing delay."
In a very few moments they reached the summit of the nearest of the
two hills, where they paused just without the busy circle of men who
laboured there, while one of the soldiers went in quest of the
officer in command. From the point where she now stood, Cecil had an
open view of the port, the town, and most of the adjacent country.
The vessels still reposed heavily on the waters, and she fancied that
the youthful midshipman was already nestling safe in his own hammock,
on board the frigate, whose tall and tapering spars rose against the
sky in such beautiful and symmetrical lines. No evidences of alarm
were manifested in the town; but, on the contrary, the lights were
gradually disappearing, notwithstanding the heavy cannonade which
still roared along the western side of the peninsula; and it was
probable that Howe, and his unmoved companions, yet continued their
revels, with the same security in which they had been left two short
hours before. While, with the exception of the batteries, every thing
in the distance was still, and apparently slumbering, the near view
was one of life and activity. Mounds of earth were already rising on
the crest of the hill— labourers were filling barrels with earth and
sand; fascines were tumbling about from place to place, as they were
wanted, and yet the stillness was only interrupted by the unremitting
strokes of the pick, the low and earnest hum of voices, or the
crashing of branches, as the pride of the neighbouring orchards came,
crushing, to the earth. The novelty of the scene beguiled Cecil of
her anxiety, and many minutes passed unheeded by. Fifty times
parties, or individuals amongst the labourers, approaching near her
person, paused to gaze a moment at the speaking and sweet features
that the placid light of the moon rendered even more than usually
soft, and then pushed on in silence, endeavouring to repair, by
renewed diligence, the transient forgetfulness of their urgent
duties. At length the man returned, and announced the approach of the
general who commanded on the hill. The latter was a soldier of middle
age, of calm and collected deportment, roughly attired, for the
occasion, and bearing no other symbol of his rank than the distinctive
crimson cockade, in one of the large military hats of the period.
"You find us in the midst of our labours," he pleasantly observed,
as he approached; "and will overlook the delay I have given you. It is
reported you left the town this evening?"
"Within the hour."
"And Howe—dreams he of the manner in which we are likely to amuse
him in the morning?"
"It would be affectation in one like me," said Cecil, modestly, "to
decline answering questions concerning the views of the royal general;
but still you will pardon me if I say, that in my present situation,
I could wish to be spared the pain of even confessing my ignorance."
"I acknowledge my error," the officer unhesitatingly answered.
After a short pause, in which he seemed to muse, he continued—"this
is no ordinary night, young lady, and it becomes my duty to refer you
to the general commanding this wing of the army. He possibly may think
it necessary to communicate your detention to the commander-in-chief."
"It is he I seek, sir, and would most wish to meet."
He bowed, and giving his orders to a subaltern in a low voice,
walked away, and was soon lost in the busy crowd that came and went in
constant employment, around the summit of the hill. Cecil lingered a
single moment after her new conductor had declared his readiness to
proceed, to cast another glance at the calm splendour of the sea and
bay; the distant and smoky roofs of the town; the dim objects that
moved about the adjacent eminence, equally and similarly employed
with those around her; and then raising her calash, and tightening
the folds of her mantle, she descended the hill with the light and
elastic steps of youth.
"The rebel vales, the rebel dales,
"With rebel trees surrounded,
"The distant woods, the hills and floods,
"With rebel echoes sounded."
The Battle of the Kegs.
The enormous white cockade that covered nearly one side of the
little hat of her present conductor, was the only symbol that told
Cecil she was now commited to the care of one who held the rank of
captain among those who battled for the rights of the colonies. No
other part of his attire was military, though a cut-and-thrust was
buckled to his form, which, from its silver guard, and formidable
dimensions, had probably been borne by some of his ancestors, in the
former wars of the colonies. The disposition of its present wearer
was, however, far from that belligerent nature that his weapon might
be thought to indicate, for he tendered the nicest care and assiduity
to the movements of his prisoner.
At the foot of the hill, a wagon, returning from the field, was put
in requisition by this semi-military gallant; and after a little
suitable preparation, Cecil found herself seated on a rude bench by
his side, in the vehicle; while her own attendants, and the two
private men, occupied its bottom, in still more social affinity. At
first their progress was slow and difficult, return carts, literally
by hundreds, impeding the way; but when they had once passed the
heavy-footed beasts who drew them, they proceeded in the direction of
Roxbury, with greater rapidity. During the first mile, while they
were extricating themselves from the apparently interminable line of
carts, the officer directed his whole attention to this important and
difficult manoeuvre; but when their uneasy vessel might be said to be
fairly sailing before the wind, he did not choose to neglect those
services, which, from time immemorial, beautiful women in distress
have had a right to claim of men in his profession.
"Now do not spare the whip," he said to the driver, at the moment
of their deliverance; "but push on, for the credit of horse-flesh, and
to the disgrace of all horned cattle. This near beast of yours should
be a tory, by his gait and his reluctance to pull in the traces for
the common-good— treat him as such, friend, and, in turn, you shall
receive the treatment of a sound whig, when we make a halt. You have
spent the winter in Boston, Madam?"
Cecil bent her head, in silent assent.
"The royal army will, doubtless, make a better figure in the eyes
of a lady, than the troops of the colonies; though there are some
among us who are thought not wholly wanting in military knowledge,
and the certain air of a soldier," he continued; extricating the
silverheaded legacy of his grandfather from its concealment under a
fold of his companion's mantle— "you have balls and entertainments
without number, I fancy, Ma'am, from the gentlemen in the king's
"I believe that few hearts are to be found amongst the females in
Boston, so light as to mingle in their amusements!"
"God bless them for it!" exclaimed her escort; "I am sure every
shot we throw into the town, is like drawing blood from our own veins.
I suppose the king's officers don't hold the colonists so cheap,
since the small affair on Charlestown neck, as they did formerly?"
"None who had any interest at stake, in the events of that fatal
day, will easily forget the impression it has made!"
The young American was too much struck by the melancholy pathos in
the voice of Cecil, not to fancy he had, in his own honest triumph,
unwittingly probed a wound which time had not yet healed. They rode
many minutes after this unsuccessful effort on his part, to converse,
in profound silence, nor did he again speak until the trampling of
horses hoofs was borne along by the evening air, unaccompanied by the
lumbering sounds of wheels. At the next turn of the road they met a
small cavalcade of officers, riding at a rapid rate in the direction
of the place they had so recently quitted. The leader of this party
drew up when he saw the wagon, which was also stopped in deference to
his obvious wish to speak with them.
There was something in the haughty, and yet easy air of the
gentleman who addressed her companion, that induced Cecil to attend to
his remarks with more than the interest that is usually excited by
the common-place dialogues of the road. His dress was neither civil,
nor wholly military, though his bearing had much of a soldier's
manner. As he drew up, three or four dogs fawned upon him, or passed
with indulged impunity between the legs of his high-blooded charger,
apparently indifferent to the impatient repulses that were freely
bestowed on their troublesome familiarities.
"High discipline, by —!" exclaimed this singular specimen of the
colonial chieftains—"I dare presume, gentlemen, you are from the
heights of Dorchester; and having walked the whole distance thither
from camp, are disposed to try the virtues of a four-wheeled
conveyance over the same ground, in a retreat!"
The young man rose in his place, and lifted his hat, with marked
respect, as he answered—
"We are returning from the hills, sir, it is true; but we must see
our enemy before we retreat!"
"A white cockade! As you hold such rank, sir, I presume you have
authority for your movements! Down, Juno—down, slut."
"This lady was landed an hour since, on the point, from the town,
by a boat from a king's ship, sir, and I am ordered to see her in
safety to the general of the right wing."
"A lady!" repeated the other, with singular emphasis, slowly
passing his hand over his remarkably aquiline and prominent features,
"if there be a lady in the case, ease must be indulged. Will you
down, Juno!" Turning his head a little aside, to his nearest aid, he
added, in a voice that was suppressed only by the action; "some trull
of Howe's, sent out as the newest specimen of loyal modesty! In such
a case, sir, you are quite right to use horses—I only marvel that
you did not take six instead of two. But how come we on in the
trenches?—Down, you hussy, down! Thou shouldst go to court, Juno,
and fawn upon his majesty's ministers, where thy sycophancy might
purchase thee a riband! How come we on in the trenches?"
"We have broken ground, sir, and as the eyes of the royal troops
are drawn upon the batteries, we shall make a work of it before the
day shows them our occupation."
"Ah! we are certainly good at digging, if at no other part of our
exercises! Miss Juno, thou puttest thy precious life in
jeopardy!—you will; then take thy fate!" As he spoke, the impatient
chief drew a pistol from his holster, and snapped it twice at the
head of the dog, that still fawned upon him in unwitting fondness.
Angry with himself, his weapon, and the animal at the same moment, he
turned to his attendants, and added, with bitter
deliberation—"gentlemen, if one of you will exterminate that
quadruped, I promise him an honourable place in my first despatches
to congress, for the service!"
A groom in attendance whistled to the spaniel, and probably saved
the life of the disgraced favourite.
The officer now addressed himself to the party he had detained,
with a collected and dignified air, that showed he had recovered his
self-possession, by saying—
"I beg pardon, sir, for this trouble—let me not prevent you from
proceeding; there may be serious work on the heights before morning,
and you will doubtless wish to be there."— He bowed with perfect
ease and politeness, and the two parties were slowly passing each
other, when, as if repenting of his condescension, he turned himself
in his saddle, adding, with those sarcastic tones so peculiarly his
own—"Captain, I beseech thee have an especial care of the lady!
With these words in his mouth, he clapped spurs to his horse, and
galloped onward, followed by all his train, at the same impetuous rate.
Cecil had heard each syllable that fell from the lips of both in
this short dialogue, and she felt a chill of disappointment gathering
about her heart, as it proceeded. When they had parted, drawing a
long, tremulous breath, she asked, in tones that betrayed all her
"And is this Washington?"
"That!" exclaimed her companion—"No, no, Madam, he is a
very different sort of man! That is the great English officer, whom
congress has made a general in our army. He is thought to be as great
in the field, as he is uncouth in the drawing-room—yes, I will
acknowledge that much in his favour, though I never know how to
understand him; he is so proud—so supercilious—and yet he is a
great friend of liberty!"
Cecil permitted the officer to reconcile the seeming contradictions
in the character of his superior, in his own way, feeling perfectly
relieved when she understood it was not the man who could have any
influence on her own destiny. The driver now appeared anxious to
recover the lost time, and he urged his horses over the ground with
increased rapidity. The remainder of their short drive to the vicinity
of Roxbury, passed in silence. As the cannonading was still maintained
with equal warmth by both parties, it was hazarding too much to place
themselves in the line of the enemy's fire. The young man, therefore,
after finding a secure spot among the uneven ground of the vicinity,
where he might leave his charge in safety, proceeded by himself to
the point where he had reason to believe he should find the officer
he was ordered to seek. During his short absence, Cecil remained in
the wagon, an appalled listener, and a partial spectator of the
The Americans had burst their only mortar of size, the preceding
night, but they applied their cannon with unwearied diligence, not
only in the face of the British entrenchments, but on the low land,
across the estuary of the Charles; and still farther to the north, in
front of the position which their enemies held on the well-known
heights of Charlestown. In retaliation for this attack, the batteries
along the western side of the town were in a constant blaze of fire,
while those of the eastern continued to slumber, in total
unconsciousness of the coming danger.
When the officer returned, he reported that his search had been
successful, and that he had been commanded to conduct his charge into
the presence of the American commander-in-chief. This new arrangement
imposed the necessity of driving a few miles farther, and as the youth
began to regard his new duty with some impatience, he was in no
humour for delay. The route was circuitous and safe; the roads good;
and the driver diligent. In consequence, within the hour, they passed
the river, and Cecil found herself, after so long an absence, once
more approaching the ancient provincial seat of learning.
The little village, though in the hands of friends, exhibited the
infallible evidences of the presence of an irregular army. The
buildings of the University were filled with troops, and the doors of
the different inns were thronged with noisy soldiers, who were
assembled for the inseparable purposes of revelry and folly. The
officer drove to one of the most private of these haunts of the
unthinking and idle, and declared his intentions to deposit his
charge under its roof, until he could learn the pleasure of the
American leader. Cecil heard his arrangements with little
satisfaction, but yielding to the necessity of the case, when the
vehicle had stopped, she alighted, without remonstrance With her two
attendants in her train, and preceded by the officer, she passed
through the noisy crowd, not only without insult, but without
molestation. The different declaimers in the throng, and they were
many, even lowered their clamorous voices as she approached, the men
giving way, in deference for her sex, and she entered the building
without hearing but one remark applied to herself, though a low and
curious buzz of voices followed her footsteps to its very threshold.
That solitary remark was a sudden exclamation, in admiration of the
grace of her movements; and singular as it may seem, her companion
thought it necessary to apologize for its rudeness, by whispering that
it had proceeded from the lips of "one of the southern riflemen; a
corps as distinguished for its skill and bravery as for its want of
The inside of this inn presented a very different aspect from its
exterior. The decent tradesman who kept it, had so far yielded to the
emergency of the times, and perhaps, also, to a certain propensity
towards gain, as temporarily to adopt the profession he followed; but
by a sort of implied compact with the crowd without, while he
administered to their appetite for liquor, he preserved most of the
privacy of his domestic arrangements. He had, however, been compelled
to relinquish one apartment entirely to the service of the public,
into which Cecil and her companions were shown, as a matter of course,
without the smallest apology for its condition.
There might have been a dozen people in the common room; some of
whom were quietly seated before its large fire, among whom were one
or two females; some walking; and others distributed on chairs, as
accident or inclination had placed them. A slight movement was made at
the entrance of Cecil, but it soon subsided; though her rich mantle
of fine cloth, and silken calash, did not fail to draw the eyes of the
women upon her, with a ruder gaze than she had yet encountered from
the other sex during the hazardous adventures of the night. She took
an offered seat near the bright and cheerful blaze on the hearth,
which imparted all the light the room contained, and disposed herself
to wait in patience the return of her conductor, who immediately took
his departure for the neighbouring quarters of the American chief.
"'Tis an awful time for women bodies to journey in!" said a
middle-aged woman near her, who was busily engaged in knitting, though
she also bore the marks of a traveller in her dress—"I'm sure if I
had thought there'd ha' been such contentions, I would never have
crossed the Connecticut; though I have an only child in camp!"
"To a mother, the distress must be great, indeed," said Cecil,
"when she hears the report of a contest in which she knows her
children are engaged."
"Yes, Royal is engaged as a six-month's-man, and he is partly
agreed to stay 'till the king's troops conclude to give up the town."
"It seems to me," said a grave looking yeoman, who occupied the
opposite corner of the fire-place, "your child has an unfitting name
for one who fights against the crown!"
"Ah, he was so called before the king wore his Scottish Boot! and
what has once been solemnly named, in holy baptism, is not to be
changed with the shift of the times! They were twins, and I called
one Prince and the other Royal; for they were born the day his present
majesty came to man's estate. That, you know, was before his heart
had changed, and when the people of the Bay loved him little less than
they did their own flesh and blood."
"Why, Goody," said the yeoman, smiling goodhumouredly, and rising
to offer her a pinch of his real Scotch, in token of amity, while he
made so free with her domestic matters—"you had then an heir to the
throne in your own family! The Prince Royal they say comes next to the
king, and by your tell, one of them, at least, is a worthy fellow,
who is not likely to sell his heritage for a mess of pottage! If I
understand you, Royal is here in service."
"He's at this blessed moment in one of the battering rams in front
of Boston neck," returned the woman, "and the Lord, he knows, 'tis an
awful calling, to be beating down the housen of people of the same
religion and blood with ourselves! but so it must be, to prevail over
the wicked designs of such as would live in pomp and idleness, by the
sweat and labour of their fellow-creatures."
The honest yeoman, who was somewhat more familiar with the terms of
modern warfare, than the woman, smiled at her mistake, while he
pursued the conversation with a peculiar gravity, which rendered his
humour doubly droll.
"'Tis to be hoped the boy will not weary at the weapon before the
morning cometh. But why does Prince linger behind, in such a moment!
Tarries he with his father on the homestead, in safety, being the
"No, no," said the woman," shaking her head, in sorrow, "he dwells,
I trust, with our common Father, in heaven! Neither are you right in
calling him the home-child. He was my first-born, and a comely youth
he grew to be! When the cry that the reg'lars were out at Lexington,
to kill and destroy, passed through the country, he shouldered his
musket, and came down with the people, to know the reason the land was
stained with American blood. He was young, and full of ambition, to
be foremost among them who were willing to fight for their
birth-rights; and the last I ever heard of him was in the midst of the
king's troops on Breed's. No, no; his body never came off the hill!
The neighbours sent me up the clothes he left in camp, and 'tis one of
his socks that I'm now footing for his twin-brother."
The woman delivered this simple explanation with perfect calmness,
though, as she advanced in the subject, large tears started from her
eyes, and following each other down her cheeks, fell unheeded upon
the humble garment of her dead son.
"This is the way our bravest striplings are cut off, fighting with
the scum of Europe!" exclaimed the yeoman, with a warmth that showed
how powerfully his feelings were touched—"I hope the boy who lives,
may find occasion to revenge his brother's death."
"God forbid! God forbid!" exclaimed the weeping mother—"revenge
is an evil passion; and least of all would I wish a child of mine to
go into the field of blood with so foul a breast. God has given us
this land to dwell in, and to rear up temples and worshippers of his
holy name, and in giving it, he bestowed the right to defend it
against all earthly oppression. If 'twas right for Prince to come,
'twas right for Royal to follow!"
"I believe I am reproved in justice," returned the man, looking
around at the spectators, with an eye that no longer teemed with a
hidden meaning—"God bless you, my good woman; and deliver you, with
your remaining boy, and all of us, from the scourge which has been
inflicted on the country for our sins. I go west, into the mountains,
with the sun, and if I can carry any word of comfort from you to the
good man at home, it will not be a hill or two that shall hinder it."
"The same thanks to you for the offer, as if you did it, friend; my
man would be right glad to see you at his settlement, but I sicken
already with the noises and awful sights of warfare, and shall not
tarry long after my son comes forth from the battle. I shall go down
to Cragie's-house in the morning, and look upon the blessed man whom
the people have chosen from among themselves as a leader, and hurry
back again; for I plainly see that this is not an abiding place for
such as I!"
"You will then have to follow him into the line of danger, for I
saw him, within the hour, riding with all his followers, towards the
water-side; and I doubt not that this unusual waste of ammunition is
intended for more than we of little wit can guess."
"Of whom speak you?" Cecil involuntarily asked.
"Of whom should he speak, but of Washington?" returned a deep, low
voice at her elbow, whose remarkable sounds instantly recalled the
tones of the aged messenger of death, who had appeared at the bed-side
of her grandmother. Cecil started from her chair, and recoiled
several paces from the person of Ralph, who stood regarding her with
a steady and searching look, heedless of the observation they
attracted, as well as of the number and quality of the spectators.
"We are not strangers, young lady," continued the old man; "and you
will excuse me, if I add, that the face of an acquaintance must be
grateful to one of your gentle sex, in a place so unsettled and
disorderly as this."
"An acquaintance!" repeated the unprotected bride.
"I said an acquaintance; we know each other, surely," returned
Ralph, with marked emphasis; "you will believe me when I add, that I
have seen the two men in the guard-room, which is at hand."
Cecil cast a furtive glance behind her, and, with some alarm,
perceived that she was separated from Meriton and the stranger. Before
time was allowed for recollection, the old man approached her with a
courtly breeding that was rendered more striking by the coarseness,
as well as negligence of his attire.
"This is not a place for the niece of an English peer," he said;
"but I have long been at home in this warlike village, and will
conduct you to another residence more suited to your sex and
For an instant Cecil hesitated, but observing the wondering faces
about her, and the intense curiosity with which all in the room
suspended their several pursuits, to listen to each syllable, she
timidly accepted his offered hand, suffering him to lead her, not only
from the room, but the house, in profound silence. The door through
which they left the building, was opposite to that by which she had
entered, and when they found themselves in the open air, it was in a
different street, and a short distance removed from the crowd of
revellers already mentioned.
"I have left two attendants behind me," she said, "without whom
'tis impossible to proceed."
"As they are watched by armed men, you have no choice but to share
their confinement, or to submit to the temporary separation," returned
the other, calmly. "Should his keepers discover the character of him
who led you hither, his fate would be certain!"
"His character!" repeated Cecil, again shrinking from the touch of
the old man.
"Surely my words are plain! I said his character. Is he not the
deadly, obstinate enemy of liberty? And think you these countrymen of
ours so dull as to suffer one like him, to go at large in their very
camp!—No, no," he muttered, with a low, but exulting laugh; "like a
fool has he tempted his fate, and like a dog shall he meet it! Let us
proceed; the house is but a step from this, and you may summon him to
your presence if you will."
Cecil was rather impelled by her companion, than induced to
proceed, when, as he had said, they soon stopped before the door of a
humble and retired building. An armed man paced along its front,
while the lengthened shadow of another sentinel in the rear was every
half-minute thrown far into the street, in confirmation of the
watchfulness that was kept over those who dwelt within.
"Proceed," said Ralph, throwing open the outer-door, without
hesitation. Cecil complied, but started at encountering another man,
trailing a musket, as he paced to and fro in the narrow passage that
received her. Between this sentinel and Ralph, there seemed to exist a
good understanding, for the latter addressed him with perfect
"Has no order been yet received from Washington?" he asked.
"None; and I rather conclude by the delay, that nothing very
favourable is to be expected."
The old man muttered to himself, but passed an, and throwing open
another door, said
Again Cecil complied, the door closing on her at the instant; but
before she had time to express either her wonder or her alarm, she was
folded in the arms of her husband.
"Is she a Capulet?
"O dear account! my life is my foe's debt."
Ah! Lincoln! Lincoln!" cried the weeping bride, gently extricating
herself from the long embrace of Lionel, "at what a moment did you
"And how have I been punished, love! a night of phrenzy, and a
morrow of useless regrets! How early have I been made to feel the
strength of those ties which unite us;—unless, indeed, my own folly
may have already severed them for ever!"
"Truant! I know you! and shall hereafter weave a web, with woman's
art, to keep you in my toils! If you love me, Lionel, as I would fain
believe, let all the past be forgotten. I ask—I wish, no
explanation. You have been deceived, and that repentant eye assures me
of your returning reason. Let us now speak only of yourself. Why do I
find you thus guarded, more like a criminal than an officer of the
"They have, indeed, bestowed especial watchfulness on my safety!"
"How came you in their power! and why do they abuse their
"'Tis easily explained. Presuming on the tempestuousness of the
night—what a bridal was ours, Cecil!"
"'Twas terrible!" she answered, shuddering; then with a bright and
instant smile, as if sedulous to chase every appearance of distrust or
care from her countenance, she continued—"but I have no longer
faith in omens, Lincoln! or, if one has been given, is not the awful
fulfilment already come? I know not how you value the benedictions of
a parting soul, Lionel, but to me there is holy consolation in knowing
that my dying parent left her blessing on our sudden union!"
Disregarding the hand, which, with gentle earnestness, she had laid
upon his shoulder, he walked gloomily away, into a distant corner of
"Cecil, I do love you, as you would fain believe," he said, "and I
listen readily to your wish to bury the past in oblivion. But I leave
my tale unfinished!—You know the night was such that none would
choose, uselessly, to brave its fury— I attempted to profit by the
storm, and availing myself of a flag, which is regularly granted to
the simpleton, Job Pray, I left the town. Impatient— do I say
impatient! borne along rather by a tempest of passions that mocked the
feebler elements, we ventured too much—Cecil, I was not alone!"
"I know it—I know it," she said, hurriedly, though speaking
barely above her breath—"you ventured too much?"—
"And encountered a piquet that would not mistake a royal officer
for an impoverished, though privileged idiot. In our anxiety we
overlooked— believe me, dearest Cecil, that if you knew all—the
scene I had witnessed—the motives which urged—they, at least,
would, justify this strange and seeming desertion."
"Did I doubt it, would I forget my condition, my recent loss, and
my sex, to follow in the footsteps of one unworthy of my solicitude!"
returned the bride, colouring as much with innate modesty, as with
the power of her emotions. "Think not I come, with girlish weakness,
to reproach you with any fancied wrongs! I am your wife, Major
Lincoln; and as such would I serve you, at a moment when I know all
the tenderness of the tie will most be needed. At the altar, and in
the presence of my God, have I acknowledged the sacred duty; and
shall I hesitate to discharge it because the eyes of man are on me!"
"I shall go mad!—I shall go mad!" cried Lionel, in ungovernable
mental anguish, as he paced the floor, in violent disorder.—"There
are moments when I think that the curse, which destroyed the father,
has already lighted on the son!"
"Lionel!" said the soft, soothing voice of his companion, at his
elbow, "is this to render me more happy!—the welcome you bestow on
the confiding girl who has committed her happiness to your keeping! I
see you relent, and will be more just to us both; more dutiful to your
God! Now let us speak of your confinement. Surely, you are not
suspected of any criminal designs in this rash visit to the camp of
the Americans! 'Twere easy to convince their leaders that you are
innocent of so base a purpose!"
"'Tis difficult to evade the vigilance of those who struggle for
liberty!" returned the low, calm voice of Ralph, who stood before
them, unexpectedly. "Major Lincoln has too long listened to the
councils of tyrants and slaves, and forgotten the land of his birth.
If he would be safe, let him retract the error, while yet he may,
"Honour!" repeated Lionel, with unconcealed disdain—again pacing
the room with swift and uneasy steps, without deigning any other
notice of the unwelcome intruder. Cecil bowed her head, and sinking
in a chair, concealed her face in her small muff, as if to exclude
some horrid and fearful sight from her view.
The momentary silence was broken by the sound of footsteps and of
voices in the passage; and at the next instant the door of the room
opening, Meriton was seen on its threshold. His appearance roused
Cecil, who springing on her feet, beckoned him away, with a sort of
phrenzied earnestness, exclaiming—
"Not here! not here!—for the love of heaven, not here!"
The valet hesitated, but catching a glimpse of his master, his
attachment got the ascendency of his respect—
"God be praised for this blessed sight, Master Lionel!" he
cried—"'tis the happiest hour I have seen since I lost the look at
the shores of old England! If 'twas only at Ravenscliffe, or in Soho,
I should be the most contented fool in the three kingdoms! Ah, Master
Lionel, let us get out of this province, into a country where there is
no rebels; or any thing worse than King, Lords, and Commons!"
"Enough now; for this time, worthy Meriton, enough!" interrupted
Cecil, breathing with difficulty, in her eagerness to be
heard.—"Go—return to the inn—the colleges—any where—do but
"Don't send a loyal subject, Ma'am, again among the rebels, I
desire to entreat of you. Such awful blasphemies, sir, as I heard
while I was there! They spoke of his sacred majesty just as freely,
sir, as if he had been a gentleman, like yourself. Joyful was the news
of my release!"
"And had it been a guard-room on the opposite shore," said Ralph,
"the liberties they used with your earthly monarch, would have been as
freely taken with the King of kings!"
"You shall remain then," said Cecil, probably mistaking the look of
high disdain which Meriton bestowed on his aged fellow-voyager, for
one of a very different meaning—"but not here. You have other
apartments, Major Lincoln; let my attendants be received there—you
surely would not admit the menials to our interview!"
"Why this sudden terror, love! Here, if not happy, you at least are
safe. Go, Meriton, into the adjoining room; if wanted, there is
admission through this door of communication."
The valet murmured some half-uttered sentences, of which only the
emphatic word "genteel" was audible, while the direction of his
discontented eye, sufficiently betrayed that Ralph was the subject of
his meditations. The old man followed his footsteps, and the door of
the passage soon closed on both, leaving Cecil standing, like a
beautiful statue, in an attitude of absorbed thought. When the noise
of her attendants, as they quietly entered the adjoining room, was
heard, she breathed again, with a tremulous sigh, that seemed to
raise a weight of apprehension from her heart.
"Fear not for me, Cecil, and least of all for yourself," said
Lionel, drawing her to his bosom with fond solicitude—"my headlong
rashness, or, rather, that fatal bane to the happiness of my house,
the distempered feeling which you must have often seen and deplored,
has indeed led me into a seeming danger. But I have a reason for my
conduct, which avowed, shall lull the suspicions of even our enemies
"I have no suspicions—no knowledge of any imperfections—no
regrets, Lionel; nothing but the most ardent wishes for your peace of
mind; and—if I might explain!—yes, now is a time— Lionel, kind,
but truant Lionel"—
Her words were interrupted by Ralph, who appeared again in the
room, with that noiseless step, which, in conjunction with his great
age and attenuated frame, sometimes gave to his movements and aspect
the character of a being superior to the attributes of humanity. On
his arm he bore an over-coat and a hat, both of which Cecil
recognized, at a glance, as the property of the unknown man who had
attended her person throughout all the vicissitudes of that eventful
"See!" said Ralph, exhibiting his spoils with a ghastly, but
meaning smile, "see in how many forms Liberty appears to aid her
votaries! Here is the guise in which she will now be courted!. Wear
them, young man, and be free!"
"Believe him not—listen not," whispered Cecil, while she shrunk
from his approach in undisguised terror—"nay, do listen, but act
"Dost thou delay to receive the blessed boon of freedom, when
offered?" demanded Ralph; "wouldst thou remain, and brave the angry
justice of the American chief, and make thy wife, of a day, a widow
for an age!"
"In what manner am I to profit by this dress?" said Lionel—"to
submit to the degradation of a disguise, success should be certain."
"Turn thy haughty eyes, young man, on the picture of innocence and
terror, at thy side. For the sake of her whose fate is wrapped in
thine, if not for your own, consult thy safety, and fly—another
minute may be too late."
"Oh! hesitate not a moment longer, Lincoln," cried Cecil, with a
change of purpose as sudden as the impulse was powerful—"fly, leave
me; my sex and station will be"—
"Never," said Lionel, casting the garment from him, in cool
disdain.—"Once, when Death was busy, did I abandon thee; but, ere I
do it again, his blow must fall on me!"
"I will follow—I will rejoin you."
"You shall not part," said Ralph, once more raising the rejected
coat, and lending his aid to envelop the form of Lionel, who stood
passive under the united efforts of his bride and her aged
assistant—"Remain here," the latter added, when their brief task was
ended, "and await the summons to freedom. And thou, sweet flower of
innocence and love, follow, and share in the honour of liberating him
who has enslaved thee!"
Cecil blushed with virgin shame, at the strength of his
expressions, but bowed her head in silent acquiescence to his will.
Proceeding to the door, he beckoned her to approach, indicating, by an
expressive gesture to Lionel, that he was to remain stationary. When
Cecil had complied, and they were in the narrow passage of the
building, Ralph, instead of betraying any apprehension of the
sentinel who paced its length, fearlessly approached, and addressed
him with the confidence of a known friend—
"See!" he said, removing the calash from before the pale features
of his companion, "how terror for the fate of her husband has caused
the good child to weep! She quits him now, friend, with one of her
attendants, while the other tarries to administer to his master's
wants. Look at her; is't not a sweet, though mourning partner, to
smooth the path of a soldier's life.
The man seemed awkwardly sensible of the unusual charms that Ralph
so unceremoniously exhibited to his view, and while he stood in
admiring embarrassment, ashamed to gaze, and yet unwilling to retire,
Cecil traced the light footsteps of the old man, entering the room
occupied by Meriton and the stranger. She was still in the act of
veiling her features from the eyes of the sentinel, when Ralph
re-appeared, attended by a figure muffled in the well-known over-coat.
Notwithstanding the flopped hat, and studied concealment of his gait,
the keen eyes of the wife penetrated the disguise of her husband, and
recollecting, at the same instant, the door of communication between
the two apartments, the whole artifice was at once revealed. With
trembling eagerness she glided past the sentinel, and pressed to the
side of Lionel, with a dependence that might have betrayed the
deception to one more accustomed to the forms of life, than was the
honest countrymen who had, so recently, thrown aside the flail to
carry a musket.
Ralph allowed the sentinel no time to deliberate, but waving his
hand in token of adieu, he led the way into the street, with his
accustomed activity. Here they found themselves in the presence of
the other soldier, who moved to and fro, along the alloted ground in
front of the building, rendering the watchfulness by which they were
environed, doubly embarrassing. Following the example of their aged
conductor, Lionel and his trembling companion walked with apparent
indifference towards this man, who, as it proved, was better
deserving of his trust than his fellow, within doors. Dropping his
musket across their path, in a manner which announced an intention to
inquire into their movements, before he suffered them to proceed, he
"How's this, old gentleman! you come out of the prisoners' rooms by
squads! one, two, three; our English gallant might be among you, and
there would still be two left! Come, come, old father, render some
account of yourself, and of your command. For, to be plain with you,
there are those who think you are no better than a spy of Howe's,
notwithstanding you are left to run up and down the camp, as you
please. In plain Yankee dialect, and that's intelligible English, you
have been caught in bad company of late, and there has been hard talk
about shutting you up, as well as your comrade!"
"Hear ye that!" said Ralph, calmly smiling, and addressing himself
to his companions, instead of the man whose interrogatories he was
expected to answer—"think you the hirelings of the crown are thus
alert! Would not the slaves be sleeping the moment the eyes of their
tyrants are turned on their own lawless pleasures! Thus it is with
Liberty! The sacred spirit hallows its meanest votaries, and elevates
the private to all the virtues of the proudest captain!"
"Come, come," returned the flattered sentinel, throwing his musket
back to his shoulder again, "I believe a man gains nothing by battling
you with words! I should have spent a year or two inside yonder
colleges to dive at all your meaning. Though I can guess you are more
than half-right in one thing; for if a poor fellow who loves his
country, and the good cause, finds it so hard to keep his eyes open
on post, what must it be to a half-starved devil on six-pence a-day!
Go along, go along, old father; there is one less of you than went
in, and if there was any thing wrong, the man in the house should know
As he concluded, the sentinel continued his walk, humming a verse
of Yankee-doodle, in excellent favour with himself and all mankind,
with the sweeping exception of his country's enemies. To say that
this was not the first instance of well-meaning integrity being
cajoled by the jargon of liberty, might be an assertion too hazardous;
but that it has not been the last, we conscientiously believe, though
no immediate example may present itself to quote in support of such
Ralph appeared, however, perfectly innocent of intending to utter
more than the spirit of the times justified; for, when left to his own
pleasure, he pursued his way, muttering rapidly to himself, and with
an earnestness that attested his sincerity. When they had turned a
corner, at a little distance from any pressing danger, he relaxed in
his movements, and suffering his eager companions to approach, he
stole to the side of Lionel, and clenching his hand fiercely, he
whispered in a voice half choked by inward exultation—
"I have him now? he is no longer dangerous! Ay—ay—I have him
closely watched by the vigilance of three incorruptible patriots!"
"Of whom speak you," demanded Lionel— "what is his offence, and
where is your captive?"
"A dog! a man in form, but a tiger in heart! Ay! but I have him!"
the old man continued, with a hollow laugh, that seemed to heave up
from his inmost soul—"a dog; a veritable dog! I have him, and God
grant that he may drink of the cup of slavery to its dregs!"
"Old man," said Lionel, firmly, "that I have followed you thus far
on no unworthy errand, you best may testify—I have forgotten the
oath which, at the altar, I had sworn to, to cherish this sweet and
spotless being at my side, at your instigation, aided by the maddening
circumstances of a moment; but the delusion has already passed away!
Here we part for ever, unless your solemn and often-repeated promises
are, on the instant, redeemed."
The high exultation which had, so lately, rendered the emaciated
countenance of Ralph hideously ghastly, disappeared like a passing
shadow, and he listened to the words of Lionel with calm and settled
attention. But when he would have answered, he was interrupted by
Cecil, who uttered, in a voice nearly suppressed by her fears—
"Oh! delay not a moment! Let us proceed; any where, or any-how!
even now the pursuers may be on our track. I am strong, dearest
Lionel, and will follow to the ends of the earth, so you but lead!"
"Lionel Lincoln, I have not deceived thee!" said the old man,
solemnly. "Providence has already led us on our way, and a few minutes
will bring us to our goal—suffer, then, that gentle trembler to
return into the village, and follow!"
"Not an inch!" returned Lionel, pressing Cecil still closer to his
side—"here we part, or your promises are fulfilled."
"Nay, go with him—go," again whispered the being who clung to him
in trembling dependence. "This very controversy may prove your ruin—
did I not say I would accompany you, Lincoln?"
"Lead on, then," said her husband, motioning Ralph to
proceed—"once again will I confide in you; but use the trust with
discretion, for my guardian spirit is at hand, and remember, thou no
longer leadest a lunatic!"
The moon fell upon the wan features of the old man, and exhibited
their contented smile, as he silently turned away, and resumed his
progress with his wonted, rapid, and noiseless tread. Their route
still lay towards the skirts of the village. While the buildings of
the University were yet in the near view, and the loud laugh of the
idlers about the inn, with the frequent challenges of the sentinels,
were still distinctly audible, their conductor bent his way beneath
the walls of a church, that rose in solemn solitude in the deceptive
light of the evening. Pointing upward at its somewhat unusual, because
regular architecture, Ralph muttered as he passed—
"Here, at least, God possesses his own, without insult!"
Lionel and Cecil slightly glanced their eyes at the silent walls,
and followed into a small enclosure, through a gap in its humble and
dilapidated fence. Here the former again paused, and spoke—
"I will go no further," he said, unconsciously strengthening the
declaration by placing his foot firmly on a mound of frozen earth, in
an attitude of resistance—"'tis time to cease thinking of 'self,
and to listen to the weakness of her whom I support!"
"Think not of me, dearest Lincoln"—
Cecil was interrupted by the voice of the old man, who raising his
hat, and baring his gray locks to the mild rays of the planet,
answered, with tremulous emotion—
"Thy task is already ended! Thou hast reached the spot where
moulder the bones of one who long supported thee. Unthinking boy, that
sacrilegious foot treads on thy mother's grave!"
"Oh, age has weary days,
"And nights o' sleepless pain!
"Thou golden time o' youthful prime,
"Why com'st thou not again."
The stillness that succeeded this unexpected annunciation was like
the cold silence of those who slumbered on every side of them. Lionel
recoiled, a pace, in horror; then imitating the action of the old
man, he uncovered his head, in pious reverence of the parent, whose
form floated dimly in his imagination, like the earliest
recollections of infancy, or the imperfect fancies of some dream.
When time was given for these sudden emotions to subside, he turned
to Ralph, and said—
"And was it here that you would bring me, to listen to the sorrows
of my family?"
An expression of piteous auguish crossed the features of the other,
as he answered, in a voice which was subdued to softness—
"Even here—here, in the presence of thy mother's grave, shalt
thou hear the tale!"
"Then let it be here!" said Lionel, whose eye was already kindling
with a wild and disordered meaning, that curdled the blood of the
anxious Cecil, who watched its expression with a woman's
solicitude.—"Here, on this hallowed spot, will I listen, and swear
the vengeance that is due, if all thy previous intimations should be
"No, no, no—listen not—tarry not!" said Cecil, clinging to his
side in undisguised alarm— "Lincoln, you are not equal to the scene!"
"I am equal to any thing, in such a cause."
"Nay, Lionel, you overrate your powers!— Think only of your
safety, now; at another, and happier moment you shall know
all—yes—I— Cecil—thy bride, thy wife, promise that all shall
"It is the descendant of the widow of John Lechmere who speaks, and
thy ears will not refuse the sounds," said Ralph, with a smile that
acted like a taunt on the awakened impulses of the young
man—"Go—thou art fitter for a bridal than a church-yard!"
"I have told you that I am equal to any thing," sternly answered
Lionel; "here will I sit, on this humble tablet, to hear all that you
can utter, though the rebel legions encircle me to my death!"
"What! dar'st brave the averted eye of one so dear to thy heart!"
"All, or any thing," exclaimed the excited youth, "with so pious an
"Bravely answered! and thy reward is nigh— nay, look not on the
syren, or thou wilt relent."
"My wife," said Lionel, extending his hand, kindly, towards the
shrinking form of Cecil.
"Thy mother!" interrupted Ralph, pointing with his emaciated hand
to the cold residence of the dead.
Lionel sunk on the dilapidated grave-stone to which he had just
alluded, and gathering his coat about him, he rested an arm upon his
knee, while its hand supported his quivering chin, as if he were
desperately bent on his gloomy purpose. The old man smiled with his
usual ghastly expression, as he witnessed this proof of his success,
and he took a similar seat on the opposite side of the grave, which
seemed the focus of their common interest. Here he dropped his face
between his hands, and appeared to muse like one who was collecting
his thoughts for the coming emergency. During this short and
impressive pause, Lionel felt the trembling form of Cecil drawing to
his side, and before his aged companion spoke, her unveiled and pallid
countenance was once more watching the changes of his own features,
in submissive, but anxious attention.
"Thou knowest already, Lionel Lincoln," commenced Ralph, slowly
raising his body to an upright attitude, "how, in past ages, thy
family sought these colonies, to find religious quiet, and the peace
of the just. And thou also knowest, for often did we beguile the long
watches of the night in discoursing of these things, while the
never-tiring ocean was rolling its waters, unheeded around, how Death
came into its elder branch, which still dwelt amid the luxury and
corruption of the English Court, and left thy father the heir of all
its riches and honours."
"How much of this is unknown to the meanest gossip in the province
of Massachusetts-Bay!" interrupted the impatient Lionel.
"But they do not know, that for years before this accumulation of
fortune actually occurred, it was deemed to be inevitable by the
decrees of Providence; they do not know how much more value the
orphan son of the unprovided soldier, found in the eyes of those even
of his own blood, by the expectation; nor do they know how the
worldly-minded Priscilla Lechmere, thy father's aunt, would have
compassed heaven and earth, to have seen that wealth, and those
honours, to which it was her greatest boast to claim alliance descend
in the line of her own body."
"But 'twas impossible! she was of the female branch; neither had
she a son!"
"Nothing seems impossible to those on whose peace of mind the worm
of ambition feeds— thou knowest well she left a grand-child; had
not that child a mother!"
Lionel felt a painful conviction of the connection, as the
trembling object of these remarks sunk her head in shame and sorrow on
his bosom, keenly alive to the justice of the character drawn of her
deceased relative, by the mysterious being who had just spoken.
"God forbid that I, a Christian, and a gentleman," continued the
old man, a little proudly, "should utter a syllable to taint the
spotless name of one so free from blemish as she of whom I speak. The
sweet child who clings to thee, in dread, Lionel, was not more pure
and innocent than she who bore her. And long before ambition had wove
its toils for the miserable Priscilla, the heart of her daughter was
the property of the gallant and honourable Englishman, to whom in
later years she was wedded."
As Cecil heard this soothing commendation of her more immediate
parents, she again raised her face into the light of the moon, and
remained, where she was already kneeling, at the side of Lionel, no
longer an uneasy, but a deeply interested listener to what followed.
"As the wishes of my unhappy aunt were not realized," said Major
Lincoln, "in what manner could they affect the fortunes of my father?"
"Thou shalt hear. In the same dwelling lived another, even fairer,
and, to the eye, as pure as the daughter of Priscilla. She was the
relative, the god-child, and the ward of that miserable woman. The
beauty, and seeming virtues of this apparent angel in human form,
caught the young eye of thy father, and in defiance of arts and
schemes, before the long-expected title and fortune came, they were
wedded, and thou wert born, Lionel, to render the boon of Fate doubly
And then thy father hastened to the land of his ancestors, to claim
his own, and to prepare the way for the reception of yourself, and his
beloved Priscilla—for then there were two Pris cilla's; and now
both sleep with the dead! All having life and nature, can claim the
quiet of the grave, but I," continued the old man, glancing his
hollow eye upward, with a look of hopeless misery—"I, who have seen
ages pass since the blood of youth has been chilled, and generation
after generation swept away, must still linger in the haunts of men!
but 'tis to aid in the great work which commences here, but which
shall not end until a continent be regenerate."
Lionel suffered a minute to pass without a question, in deference
to this burst of feeling; but soon making an impatient movement, it
drew the eyes of Ralph once more upon him, and the old man
"Month after month, for two long and tedious years, did thy father
linger in England, struggling for his own. At length he prevailed. He
then hastened hither; but there was no wife—no fond and loving
Priscilla, like that tender flower that reposes in thy bosom, to
welcome his return
"I know it," said Lionel, nearly choked by his pious
recollections—"she was dead."
"She was more," returned Ralph, in a voice so deep that it sounded
like one speaking from the grave—"she was dishonoured!"
"'Tis true; true as that holy gospel which comes to men through the
inspired ministers of God!"
"'Tis false," repeated Lionel, fiercely— "blacker than the
darkest thoughts of the foul spirit of evil!"
"I say, rash boy, 'tis true! She died in giving birth to the fruits
of her infamy. When Priscilla Lechmere met thy heart-stricken parent
with the damming tale, he read in her exulting eye, the treason of
her mind, and, like thee, he dared to call heaven to witness, that thy
mother was defamed. But there was one known to him, under
circumstances that forbad the thoughts of deceit, who swore—ay, took
the blessed name of Him who reads all hearts, for warranty of her
truth!—and she confirmed it."
"The infamous seducer!" said Lionel, hoarsely, his body turning
unconsciously away from Cecil—"does he yet live? Give him to my
vengeance, old man, and I will yet bless you for your accursed
"Lionel, Lionel," said the soothing voice of his bride, "do you
"Credit him!" said Ralph, with a horrid, inward laugh, as if he
would deride the idea of incredulity; "all this must he believe, and
more! Once again, weak girl, did thy grandmother throw out her lures
for the wealthy baronet, and when he would not become her son, then
did she league with the spirits of hell to compass his ruin. Revenge
took place of ambition, and thy husband's father was the victim!"
"Say on!" cried Lionel, nearly ceasing to breathe in the intensity
of his interest.
"The blow had cut him to the heart, and for a time, his reason was
crushed beneath its weight. Yet 'twas but for an hour, compared to the
eternity a man is doomed to live! They profited by the temporary
derangement, and when his wandering faculties were lulled to quiet, he
found himself the tenant of a mad-house, where, for twenty long
years, was he herded with the defaced images of his maker, by the arts
of the base widow of John Lechmere."
"Can this be true! Can this be true!" cried Lionel, clasping his
hands wildly, and springing to his feet, with a violence that cast the
tender form that still clung to him, aside, like a worthless
toy—"Can this be proved? How knowest thou these facts?"
The calm, but melancholy smile that was wont to light the wan
features of the old man, when he alluded to his own existence, was
once more visible, as he answered—
"There is but little hid from the knowledge acquired by length of
days; besides, have I not secret means of intelligence that are
unknown to thee! Remember what, in our frequent interviews, I have
revealed; recall the death-bed scene of Priscilla Lechmere, and ask
thyself if there be not truth in thy aged friend!"
"Give me all! hold not back a title of thy accursed tale—give me
all—or take back each syllable thou hast uttered."
"Thou shalt have all thou askest, Lionel Lincoln, and more,"
returned Ralph, throwing into his manner and voice its utmost powers
of solemnity and persuasion—"provided thou wilt swear eternal
hatred to that country and those laws, by which an innocent and
unoffending man can be levelled with the beasts of the field, and be
made to rave even at his maker, in the hitterness of his sufferings."
"More than that—ten thousand times more than that will I
swear—I will league with this rebellion"—
"Lionel, Lionel—what is't you do!" interrupted the heart-stricken
But her voice was stilled by loud and busy cries, which broke out
of the village, above the hum of revelry, and was instantly succeeded
by the trampling of footsteps, as men rushed over the frozen ground,
apparently by hundreds, and with headlong rapidity. Ralph, who was not
less quick to hear these sounds than the timid bride, glided from the
grave, and approached the high-way, whither he was slowly followed by
his companions; Lionel utterly indifferent whither he proceeded, and
Cecil trembling in every limb, with terror for the safety of him who
so little regarded his own danger.
"They are abroad, and think to find an enemy," said the old man,
raising his hand with a gesture to command attention; "but he has
sworn to join their standards, and gladly will they receive any of
his name and family!"
"No, no—he has pledged himself to no dishonour," cried
Cecil—"Fly, Lincoln, while you are free, and leave me to meet the
pursuers— they will respect my weakness."
Fortunately the allusion to herself awakened Lionel from the dull
forgetfulness into which his faculties had fallen. Encircling her
slight figure with his arm, he turned swiftly from the spot, saying,
as he urged her forward—
"Old man, when this precious charge is in safety, thy truth or
falsehood shall be proved."
But Ralph, whose unincumbered person, and iron frame, which seemed
to mock the ravages of time, gave a vast superiority over the impeded
progress of the other, moved swiftly ahead, waving his hand on high,
as if to indicate his intention to join in the flight, while he led
the way into the fields adjacent to the church-yard they had quitted.
The noise of the pursuers soon became more distinct, and in the
intervals of the distant cannonade, the cries and directions of those
who conducted the chase were distinctly audible. Notwithstanding the
vigorous arm of her supporter, Cecil was soon sensible that her
delicate frame was unequal to continue the exertions necessary to
insure their safety. They had entered another road, which lay at no
great distance from the first, when she paused, and reluctantly
declared her inability to proceed.
"Then, here will we await our captors," said Lionel, with forced
composure—"let the rebels beware how they abuse their slight
The words were scarcely uttered, when a cart, drawn by a double
team, turned an angle in the highway, near them, and its driver
appeared within a few feet of the spot where they stood. He was a man
far advanced in years, but still wielded his long goad with a
dexterity which had been imparted by the practice of more than half a
century. The sight of this man, alone, and removed from immediate aid,
suggested a desperate thought for self-preservation to Lionel.
Quitting the side of his exhausted companion, he advanced upon him
with an air so fierce that it might have created alarm in one who had
the smallest reason to apprehend any danger.
"Whither go you with that cart," sternly demanded the young man, on
"To the point," was the ready answer; "yes, yes—old and
young—big and little—men and cre'turs— four-wheels and
two-wheels—every thing goes to the point to-night, as you can guess,
fri'nd! Why," he continued, dropping one end of his goad on the
ground, and supporting himself by grasping it with both his hands—"I
was eightythree the fourteenth of the last March, and I hope, God
willing, that when the next birth-day comes, there wont be a red coat
left in the town of Boston. To my notion, friend, they have held the
place long enough, and it's time to quit. My boys are in the camp,
soldiering a turn—the old woman has been as busy as a bee, sin'
sun-down, helping me to load-up what you see, and I am carrying it
over to Dorchester, and not a farthing shall it ever cost the
"And you are going to Dorchester-neck with your bundles of hay!"
said Lionel, eyeing both him and his passing team, in hesitation
whether to attempt violence on one so infirm and helpless.
"Anan! you must speak up, soldier-fashion, as you did at first, for
I am a little deaf," returned the carter. "Yes, yes, they spared me in
the press, for they said I had done enough; but I say a man has never
done enough for his own country, when any thing is left to be done.
I'm told they are carrying over fashines, as they call 'em, and
pressed-hay, for their forts.—As hay is more in my fashion than any
other fashion, I've bundled up a stout pile on't here, and if that
wont do, why, let Washington come; he is welcome to the barn, stacks
"While you are so liberal to the Congress, can you help a female in
distress, who would wish to go in the direction of your route, but is
too feeble to walk?"
"With all my heart," said the other, turning round in quest of her
whom he was desired to assist—"I hope she is handy; for the night
wears on, and I shouldn't like to have the English send a bullet at
our people on Dorchester hills, before my hay gets there to help stop
"She shall not detain you an instant," said Lionel, springing to
the place where Cecil stood, partly concealed by the fence, and
supporting her to the side of the rude vehicle—"you shall be amply
rewarded for this service."
"Reward! Perhaps she is the wife or daughter of a soldier, in which
case she should be drawn in her coach and four, instead of a cart and
"Yes, yes—you are right, she is both—the wife of one, and the
daughter of another soldier."
"Ay! God bless her! I warrant-me old Put was more than half-right,
when he said the women would stop the two ridgements, that the proud
parliamenter boasted could march through the colonies, from Hampshire
to Georgi'—well, fri'nds, are ye situated?"
"Perfectly," said Lionel, who had been preparing seats for himself
and Cecil among the bundles of hay, and assisting his companion into
her place during the dialogue—"we will detain you no longer."
The carter, who was no less than the owner of a hundred acres of
good land in the vicinity, signified his readiness, and sweeping
through the air with his goad, he brought his cattle to the proper
direction, and slowly moved on. During this hurried scene, Ralph had
continued hid by the shadows of the fence. When the cart proceeded,
he waved his hand, and gliding across the road, was soon lost to the
eye in the misty distance, with which his gray apparel blended, like
a spectre vanishing in air.
In the mean time the pursuers had not been idle. Voices were heard
in different directions, and dim forms were to be seen rushing through
the fields, by the aid of the deceptive light of the moon. To add to
the embarrassment of their situation, Lionel found, when too late,
that the route to Dorchester lay directly through the village of
Cambridge. When he perceived they were approaching the streets, he
would have left the cart, had not the experiment been too dangerous,
in the midst of the disturbed soldiery, who now flew by on every side
of them. In such a strait, his safest course was to continue
motionless and silent, secreting his own form, and that of Cecil, as
much as possible, among the bundles of hay. Contrary to all the just
expectations which the impatient patriotism of the old yeoman had
excited, instead of driving steadily through the place, he turned his
cattle a little from the direct route, and stopped in front of the
very inn, where Cecil had, so lately, been conducted by her guide
from the point.
Here the same noisy and thoughtless revelry existed as before. The
arrival of such an`equipage, at once drew a crowd to the spot, and the
uneasy pair on the top of the load, became unwilling listeners to the
"What, old one, hard at it for Congress!" cried a man, approaching
with a mug in his hand; "come, wet your throat, my venerable father of
Liberty, for you are too old to be a son!"
"Yes, yes," answered the exulting farmer, "I am father and son,
too! I have four boys in camp, and seven grand'uns, in the bargain;
and that would be eleven good triggers in one family, if five good
muskets had so many locks—but the youngest men have got a
ducking-gun, and a double barrel atween them, howsomever; and Aaron
the boy, carries as good a horse-pistol, I calculate, as any there is
going in the Bay! But what an uneasy time you have on't to-night!
There's more powder wasted in mocking thunder, than would fight old
Bunker over again, at `white o' the eye' distance!"
"'Tis the way of war, old man; and we want to keep the reg'lars
from looking at Dorchester."
"If they did, they couldn't see far to-night, But, now do tell me;
I am an old man, and have a grain of cur'osity in the flesh; my woman
says that Howe casts out his carcasses at you; which I hold to be an
"As true as the gospel."
"Well, there is no calculating on the wastefulness of an ungodly
spirit!" said the worthy yeoman, shaking his head—"I could believe
any wickedness of him but that! As cre'turs must be getting scarce in
the town, I conclude he makes use of his own slain?"
"Certain," answered the soldier, winking at his
companions—"Breed's hill has kept him in ammunition all winter."
"'Tis awful, awful! to see a fellow-cre'tur flying through the air,
after the spirit has departed to judgment! War is a dreadful calling;
but, then, what is a man without liberty!"
"Hark ye, old gentleman, talking of flying, have you seen any thing
of two men and a woman, flying up the road as you came in?"
"Anan! I'm a little hard o'hearing—women, too! do they shoot
their Jezebels into our camp! There is no wickedness the king's
ministers wont attempt to circumvent our weak naturs!"
"Did you see two men and a woman, running away as you came down the
road?" bawled the fellow in his ear.
"Two! did you say two?" asked the yeoman, turning his head a little
on one side, in an attitude of sagacious musing.
"Yes, two men."
"No, I didn't see two. Running out of town, did you say?"
"Ay, running, as if the devil was after them."
"No; I didn't see two; nor any body running away—it's a sartain
sight of guilt to run away— is there any reward offered?" said the
old man, suddenly interrupting himself, and again communing with his
"Not yet—they've just escaped."
"The surest way to catch a thief is to offer a smart
reward—no—I didn't see two men—you are sartain there was two?"
"Push on with that cart! drive on, drive on," cried a mounted
officer of the quarter-master's department, who came scouring through
the street, at that moment, awakening all the slumbering ideas of
haste, which the old farmer had suffered to lie dormant so long. Once
more flourishing his goad, he put his team in motion, wishing the
revellers goodnight as he proceeded. It was, however, long after he
had left the village, and crossed the Charles, before he ceased to
make frequent and sudden halts in the highway, as if doubtful whether
to continue his route, or to return. At length he stopped the cart,
and clambering up on the hay, he took a seat, where with one eye he
could regulate his cattle, and with the other examine his companions.
This investigation continued another hour, neither party uttering a
syllable, when the teamster appeared satisfied that his suspicions
were unjust, and abandoned them. Perhaps the difficulties of the road
assisted in dissipating his doubts, for as they proceeded, return
carts were met at every few rods, rendering his undivided attention
to his own team indispensable.
Lionel, whose gloomy thoughts had been chased from his mind by the
constant excitement of the foregoing scenes, now felt relieved from
any immediate apprehensions. He whispered his soothing hopes of a
final escape to Cecil, and folding her in his coat, to shield her from
the night-air, he was pleased to find, ere long, by her gentle
breathing, that, overcome by fatigue, she was slumbering in
forgetfulness on his bosom.
Midnight had long passed when they came in sight of the eminences
beyond Dorchester-neck. Cecil had awoke, and Lionel was already
devising some plausible excuse for quitting the cart, without
reviving the suspicions of the teamster. At length a favourable spot
occurred, where they were alone, and the formation of the ground was
adapted to such a purpose. Lionel was on the point of speaking, when
the cattle stopped, and Ralph suddenly appeared in the highway, at
"Make room, friend, for the oxen," said the farmer—"dumb beasts
wont pass in the face of man."
"Alight," said Ralph, seconding his words with a wide sweep of his
arm towards the fields.
Lionel quickly obeyed, and by the time the driver had descended
also, the whole party stood together in the road.
"You have conferred a greater obligation than you are aware of,"
said Lionel to the driver. "Here are five guineas."
"For what? for riding on a load of hay a few miles!—no,
no—kindness is no such boughten article in the Bay, that a man need
pay for it! but, friend, money seems plenty with you, for these
"Then thanks, a thousand times—I can stay to offer you no more."
He was yet speaking, when, obedient to an impatient gesture from
Ralph, he lifted Cecil over the fence, and in a moment they
disappeared from the eyes of the astonished farmer.
"Halloo, friend," cried the worthy advocate for his country,
running after them as fast as old age would allow—"were there three
of you, when I took ye up?"
The fugitives heard the call of the simple and garrulous old man,
but, as will easily be imagined, did not deem it prudent to stop and
discuss the point in question between them. Before they had gone far,
the furious cry of, "take care of that team!" with the rattling of
wheels, announced that their pursuer was recalled to his duty, by an
arrival of empty wagons; and before the distance rendered sounds
unintelligible, they heard the noisy explanation, which their late
companion was giving to the others, of the whole transaction. They
were not, however, pursued; the teamsters having more pressing objects
in view than the detection of thieves, or even of pocketing a reward.
Ralph led his companions, after a brief explanation, by a long and
circuitous path, to the shores of the bay. Here they found, hid in the
rushes of a shallow inlet, a small boat, that Lionel recognised as
the little vessel in which Job Pray was wont to pursue his usual
avocation of a fisherman. Entering it without delay, he seized the
oars, and aided by a flowing tide, he industriously urged it towards
the distant spires of Boston.
The parting shades of the night were yet struggling with the
advance of day, when a powerful flash of light illuminated the hazy
horizon, and the roar of cannon, which had ceased towards morning,
was again heard. But this time the sounds came from the water, and a
cloud rose above the smoking harbour, announcing that the ships were
again enlisted in the contest. This sudden cannonade induced Lionel to
steer his boat between the islands; for the castle, and southern
batteries of the town, were all soon united in pouring out their
vengeance on the labourers, who still occupied the heights of
Dorchester. As the little vessel glided by a tall frigate, Cecil saw
the boy who had been her first escort in the wanderings of the
preceding night, standing on its taffrail, rubbing his eyes with
wonder, and staring at those hills, whose possession he had prophesied
would lead to such bloody results. In short, while he laboured at the
oars, Lionel witnessed the opening scene of Breed's acted anew, as
battery after battery, and ship after ship, brought their guns to
bear on the hardy countrymen who had, once more, hastened a crisis by
their daring enterprise. Their boat passed unheeded, in the
excitement and bustle of the moment, and the mists of the morning had
not yet dissipated, when it shot by the wharves of Boston, and
turning into the narrow entrance of the towndock, it touched the land,
near the warehouse, where it had so often been moored, in more
peaceable times, by its simple master.
"Now cracks a noble heart;—good-night,
Lionel assisted Cecil to ascend the difficult water-stairs, and
still attended by their aged companion, they soon stood on the
drawbridge that connected the piers which formed the mouth of the
"Here we again part," he said, addressing himself to Ralph; "at
another opportunity let us resume your melancholy tale."
"None so fitting as the present: the time, the place, and the state
of the town, are all favourable."
Lionel cast his eyes around on the dull misery which pervaded the
neglected area. A few halfdressed soldiers and alarmed townsmen, were
seen by the gray light of the morning, rushing across the square
towards the point, whence the sounds of cannon proceeded. In the hurry
of the moment, their own arrival was not noted.
"The place—the time!" he slowly repeated.
"Ay, both. At what moment can the friend of liberty pass more
unheeded, amongst these miscreant hirelings, than now, when fear has
broken their slumbers! You is the place," he said, pointing to the
warehouse, "where all that I have uttered will find its confirmation."
Major Lincoln communed momentarily with his thoughts. It is
probable that in the rapid glances of his mind, he traced the
mysterious connexion between the abject tenant of the adjacent
building, and the deceased grandmother of his bride, whose active
agency in producing the calamities of his family had now been openly
acknowledged. It was soon apparent that he wavered in his purpose,
nor was he slow to declare it.
"I will attend you," he said; "for who can say what the hardihood
of the rebels may next attempt, and future occasions may be wanting.
I will first see this gentle charge of mine"—
"Lincoln, I cannot—must not leave you," interrupted Cecil, with
earnest fervour—"go, listen, and learn all; surely there can be
nothing that a wife may not know!"
Without waiting for further objection, Ralph made a hurried gesture
of compliance, and turning, he led the way, with his usual, swift
footsteps, into the low and dark tenement of Abigail Pray. The
commotion of the town had not yet reached this despised and neglected
building, which was even more than ordinarily gloomy and still. As
they picked their way, however, among the scattered hemp, across the
scene of the preceding night's riot, a few stifled groans proceeded
from one of the towers, and directed them where to seek its abused
and suffering inmates. On opening the door of this little apartment,
not only Lionel and Cecil paused, but even the immovable old man,
appeared to hesitate, in wonder.
The heart stricken mother of the simpleton was seated on her humble
stool, busied in repairing some mean and worthless garments which
had, seemingly, been exposed to the wasteful carelessness of her
reckless child. But while her fingers performed their functions with
mechanical skill, her contracted brow, working muscles, and hard, dry
eyes, betrayed the force of the mental suffering that she struggled to
conceal. Job still lay stretched on his abject pallet, though his
breathing was louder and more laboured than when we last left him,
while his sunken features indicated the slow, but encroaching advances
of the disease. Polwarth was seated at his side, holding a pulse,
with an air of medical deliberation; and attempting, every few
moments, to confirm his hopes or fears, as each preponderated in turn,
by examining the glazed eyes of the subject of his care.
Upon a party thus occupied, and with feelings so much engrossed,
even the sudden entrance of the intruders was not likely to make any
very sensible impression. The languid and unmeaning look of Job
wandered momentarily towards the door, and then became again fixed on
vacancy. A gleam of joy shot into the honest visage of the captain
when he first beheld Lionel, accompanied by Cecil, but it was
instantly chased away by the settled meaning of care which had gotten
the mastery of his usually coutented expression. The greatest
alteration was produced in the aspect of the woman, who bowed her head
to her bosom, with a universal shudder of her frame, as Ralph stood
unexpectedly before her. But from her also, the sudden emotion passed
speedily away, her hands resuming their humble occupation, with the
same mechanical and involuntary movements, as before.
"Explain this scene of silent sorrow!" said Eionel to his
friend—"how came you in this haunt of wretchedness, and who has
harmed the lad?"
"Your question conveys its own answer, Major Lincoln," returned
Polwarth, with a manner so deliberate, that he refused to raise his
steady look from the face of the sufferer—"I am here, because they
"The motive is commendable! but what aileth the youth?"
"The functions of nature seem suspended by some remarkable
calamity! I found him suffering from inanition, and notwithstanding I
applied as hearty and nutritious a meal as the strongest man in the
garrison could require, the symptoms, as you see, are strangely
"He has taken the contagion of the town, and you have fed him, when
his fever was at the highest!"
"Is small-pox to be considered more than a symptom, when a man has
the damnable disease of starvation! go to—go to, Leo, you read the
Latin poets so much at the schools, that no leisure is left to bestow
on the philosophy of nature. There is an inward monitor that teaches
every child the remedy for hunger."
Lionel felt no disposition to contend with his friend on a point
where the other's opinions were so dogmatical, but turning to the
woman, he said—
"The experience of a professional nurse should have taught you, at
least, more care."
"Can experience steel a mother to the yearnings of her offspring
for food!" returned the forlorn Abigail—"no, no—the ear cannot be
deaf to such a moaning, and wisdom is as folly when the heart bleeds."
"Lincoln, you chide unkindly," said Cecil— "let us rather attempt
to avert the danger, than quarrel with its cause."
"It is too late—it is too late," returned the disconsolate
mother; "his hours are already numbered, and Death is on him. I can
now only pray that God will lighten his curse, and suffer the parting
spirit to know his Almighty power."
"Throw aside these worthless rags," said Cecil, gently attempting
to take the clothes, "nor fatigue yourself longer, at such a sacred
moment, with unnecessary labour."
"Young lady, you little know a mother's longings; may you never
know her sorrows! I have been doing for the child these
seven-and-twenty years; rob me not of the pleasure, now that so little
remains to be done."
"Is he then so old!" exclaimed Lionel, in surprise.
"Old as he is, 'tis young for a child to die! He wants the look of
reason; heaven in its mercy grant that he may be found to have a face
Hitherto Ralph had remained where he first stood, as if riveted to
the floor, with his eyes fastened on the countenance of the sufferer.
He now turned to Lionel, and in a voice rendered even plaintive by
his deep emotion, he asked the simple question—
"Will he die?"
"I fear it—that look is not easily to be mistaken."
With a step so light that it was inaudible, the old man moved to
the bed, and seated himself on the side, opposite to Polwarth. Without
regarding the wondering look of the captain, he waved his hand on
high, as if to exhort to silence, and then gazing on the features of
the sick, with melancholy interest, he said—
"Here, then, is death again! None are so young as to be unheeded;
'tis only the old that cannot die. Tell me, Job, what seest thou in
the visions of thy mind—the unknown places of the damned, or the
brightness of such as stand in presence of their God?"
At the well-known sound of his voice, the glazed eye of the
simpleton lighted with a ray of reason, and was turned towards the
speaker, once more, teeming with a look of meek assurance. The
rattling in his throat, for a moment, increased, and then ceased
entirely; when a voice so deep, that it appeared to issue from the
depths of his chest, was heard, saying—
"The Lord wont harm him who never harm'd the creaturs of the Lord?"
"Emperors and kings, yea, the great of the earth, might envy thee
thy lot, thou unknown child of wretchedness!" returned Ralph—"not
yet thirty years of probation, and already thou throwest aside the
clay! Like thee did I grow to manhood, and learn how hard it is to
live; but like thee I cannot die!—Tell me, boy, dost thou enjoy the
freedom of the spirit, or hast thou still pain and pleasure in the
flesh? Dost see beyond the tomb, and trace thy route through the
pathless air, or is all yet hid in the darkness of the grave?"
"Job is going where the Lord has hid his reason," answered the same
hollow voice as before; "his prayers wont be foolish any longer."
"Pray, then, for one aged and forlorn; who has borne the burden of
life 'till Death has forgotten him, and who wearies of the things of
earth, where all is treachery and sin. But stay, depart not, 'till
thy spirit can bear the signs of repentance from yon sinful woman,
into the regions of day."
Abigail groaned aloud; her hands again refused their occupation,
and her head once more sunk on her bosom in abject misery. From this
posture of self-abasement and grief, the woman raised herself to her
feet, and putting aside the careless tresses of dark hair, which,
though, here and there, streaked with gray, retained much of their
youthful gloss, she looked about her with a face so haggard, and eyes
so full of meaning, that the common attention was instantly attracted
to her movements.
"The time has come, and neither fear nor shame shall longer tie my
tongue," she said. "The hand of providence is too manifest in this
assemblage around the death-bed of that boy, to be unheeded. Major
Lincoln, in that stricken and helpless child, you see one who shares
your blood, though he has ever been a stranger to your happiness. Job
is your brother!"
Grief has maddened her! exclaimed the anxious Cecil—"she knows
not what she utters."
"'Tis true!" said the calm tones of Ralph.
"Listen," continued Abigail; "a terrible witness, sent hither by
heaven, speaks to attest I tell no lie. The secret of my transgression
is known to him, when I had thought it buried in the affection of one
only who owed me every thing."
"Woman!" said Lionel, "in attempting to deceive me, you deceive
yourself. Though a voice from heaven should declare the truth of thy
damnable tale, still would I deny that foul object being the child of
my beauteous mother."
"Foul and wretched as you see him, he is the offspring of one not
less fair, though far less fortunate, than thy own boasted parent,
proud child of Prosperity! call on heaven as thou wilt, with that
blasphemous tongue, he is no less thy brother, and the elder born."
"'Tis true—'tis true—'tis most solemnly a truth!" repeated the
unmoved and aged stranger.
"It cannot be!" cried Cecil—"Lincoln, credit them not, they
"Out of thy own mouth will I find reasons to convince you," said
Abigail. "Hast thou not owned the influence of the son at the altar?
Why should one, vain, ignorant and young as I was, be insensible to
the seductions of the father!"
"The child is then, thine!" exclaimed Lionel, once more breathing
with freedom—" proceed with thy tale; you confide it to friends!"
"Yes—yes," cried Abigail, clasping her hands, and speaking with
bitter emphasis; "you have all the consolation of proving the
difference between the guilt of woman and that of man? Major Lincoln,
accursed and polluted as you see me, thy own mother was not more
innocent nor fair, when my youthful beauty caught thy father's eye.
He was great and powerful, and I unknown and frail—yon miserable
proof of our transgression did not appear, until he had met your
"Can this be so?"
"The holy gospels are not more true!" murmured Ralph.
"And my father! did he—could he desert thee in thy need?"
"Shame came when virtue and pride had been long forgotten. I was a
dependant of his own proud race, and opportunities were not wanting
to mark his wandering looks and growing love for the chaste
Priscilla. He never knew my state. While I was stricken to the earth
by the fruits of guilt he proved how easy it is for us to forget, in
the days of prosperity, the companions of our shame. At length, you
were born; and unknown to him, I received his new-born heir from the
hands of his jealous aunt. What accursed thoughts beset me at that
bitter moment! But, praised be God in heaven, they passed away, and I
was spared the sin of murder!"
"Even of murder. You know not the desperate thoughts the wretched
harbour for relief! But opportunity was not long wanting, and I
enjoyed the momentary, hellish pleasure of revenge. Your father went
in quest of his rights, and disease attacked his beloved wife. Yes,
foul and unseemly as is my wretched child, the beauty of thy mother
was changed to a look still more hideous! Such as Job now seems, was
the injured woman on her death-bed. I feel all thy justice, Lord of
power, and bow before thy will!"
"Injured woman!" repeated Lionel, "say on, and I will bless thee!"
Abigail gave a groan, so deep and hollow, that, for a moment, the
listeners believed it was the parting struggle of the spirit of her
son, and she sunk, helplessly, into her seat, again concealing her
features in her dress.
"Injured woman!" slowly repeated Ralph, with the most taunting
contempt in his accents— "what punishment does not a wanton merit?"
"Ay, injured!" cried the awakened son— "my life on it, thy tale,
at least, is false."
The old man was silent, but his lips moved rapidly, as if he
muttered an incredulous reply to himself, while a scornful smile cast
its bright and peculiar meaning across the wasted lineaments of his
"I know not what you may have heard from others," continued
Abigail, speaking so low that her words were nearly lost in the
difficult and measured breathing of Job—"but I call heaven to
witness that you, now, shall hear no lie. The laws of the province
commanded that the victims of the foul distemper should be kept apart,
and your mother was placed at the mercy of myself, and one other, who
loved her still less than I."
"Just providence! you did no violence?"
"The disease spared us such a crime. She died in her new deformity,
while I remained a looker-on, if not in the beauty of my innocence,
still free from the withering touch of scorn and want. Yes, I found a
sinful, but flattering consolation in that thought! Vain, weak, and
foolish as I had been, never did I regard my own fresh beauty, with
half the inward pleasure that I looked upon the foulness of my rival.
Your aunt, too—she was not without the instigations of the worker
"Speak only of my mother," interrupted the impatient Lionel—"of
my aunt, I already know the whole."
"Unmoved and calculating as she was, how little did she understand
good from evil! She even thought to crack the heart-strings, and
render whole, by her weak inventions, that which the power of God
could only create. The gentle spirit of thy mother had hardly
departed, before a vile plot was hatched to destroy the purity of her
fame. Blinded fools that we were! She thought to lead by her soothing
arts, aided by his wounded affections, the husband to the feet of her
own daughter, the innocent mother of her who stands beside thee; and I
was so vain as to hope, that, in time, justice and my boy, might
plead with the father and seducer, and raise me to the envied station
of her whom I hated."
"And this foul calumny you repeated, with all its basest colouring,
to my abused father?"
"We did—we did; yes, God, he knows we did! and when he hesitated
to believe, I took the holy evangelists as witnesses of my truth!"
"And he," said Lionel, nearly choked by his emotions—"he believed
"When he heard the solemn oath of one, whose whole guilt he thought
lay in her weakness to himself, he did. As we listened to his terrible
denunciations, and saw the frown which darkened his manly beauty, we
both thought we had succeeded. But how little did we know the
difference between rooted passion and passing inclination! The heart
we thought to alienate from its dead partner, we destroyed; and the
reason we conspired to deceive, was maddened!"
When her voice ceased, so profound a silence reigned in the place,
that the roar of the distant cannonade sounded close at hand, and even
the low murmurs of the excited town swept by, like the whisperings of
the wind. Job suddenly ceased to breathe, as though his spirit had
only lingered to hear the confession of his mother, and Polwarth
dropped the arm of the dead simpleton, unconscious of the interest he
had so lately taken in his fate. In the midst of this death like
stillness, the old man stole from the side of the body, and stood
before the self-condemned Abigail, whose form was writhing under her
mental anguish. Crouching more like a tiger than a man, he sprang
upon her, with a cry so sudden, so wild, and so horrid, that it
caused all within its hearing to shudder with instant dread.
"Beldame!" he shouted, "I have thee now! Bring hither the book! the
blessed, holy word of God! Let her swear, let her swear! Let her damn
her perjured soul, in impious oaths!"—
"Monster! release the woman!" cried Lionel, advancing to the
assistance of the struggling penitent; "thou, too, hoary-headed
wretch, hast deceived me!"
"Lincoln! Lincoln!" shrieked Cecil, "stay that unnatural hand! you
raise it on thy father!"
Lionel staggered back to the wall, where he stood motionless, and
gasping for breath. Left, to work his own frantic will, the maniac
would speedily have terminated the sorrows of the wretched woman, had
not the door been burst open with a crash, and the stranger who was
left by the cunning of the madman, in the custody of the Americans,
rushed to the rescue.
"I know your yell, my gentle baronet!" cried the aroused keeper,
for such in truth he was, "and I have a mark for your malice, which
would have gladly had me hung! But I have not followed you from
kingdom to kingdom, from Europe to America, to be cheated by a
It was apparent, by the lowering look of the fellow, how deeply he
resented the danger he had just escaped, as he sprang forward to seize
his prisoner. Ralph abandoned his hold the instant this hated object
appeared, and he darted upon the breast of the other with the
undaunted fury that a lion, at bay, would turn upon its foe. The
struggle was fierce and obstinate. Hoarse oaths, and the most savage
execrations burst from the incensed keeper, and were blended with the
wildest ravings of madness from Ralph. The excited powers of the
maniac at length prevailed, and his antagonist fell under their
irresistible impulse. Quicker than thought, Ralph was seen hovering
on the chest of his victim, while he grasped his throat with fingers
"Vengeance is holy!" cried the maniac, bursting into a shout of
horrid laughter, at his triumph, and shaking his gray locks till they
flowed in wild confusion around his glowing eye-balls;"Urim and
Thummim are the words of glory! Liberty is the shout! die, damned dog!
die like the fiends in darkness, and leave freedom to the air!"
By a mighty effort the gasping man released his throat a little
from the gripe that nearly throttled him, and cried, with difficulty—
"For the love of heavenly justice, come to my aid! will you see a
man thus murdered?"
But he addressed himself to the sympathies of the listeners in
vain. The females had hid their faces, in natural horror; the maimed
Polwarth was yet without his artificial limb; and Lionel still looked
upon the savage fray with a vacant eye. At this moment of despair, the
hand of the keeper was seen plunging, with violence, into the side of
Ralph, who sprang upon his feet at the third blow, laughing
immoderately, but with sounds so wild and deep, that they seemed to
shake his inmost soul. His antagonist profited by the occasion, and
darted from the room with the headlong precipitation of guilt.
The countenance of the maniac, as he now stood, struggling between
life and death, changed with each fleeting impulse. The blood flowed
freely from the wounds in his side, and as the fatal tide ebbed away,
a ray of passing reason lighted his pallid and ghastly features. His
inward laugh entirely ceased. The glaring eye-balls became
stationary, and his look, gradually softening, settled on the appalled
pair, who took the deepest interest in his welfare. A calm and decent
expression possessed those lineaments which had just exhibited the
deepest marks of the wrath of God. His lips moved in a vain effort to
speak; and stretching forth his arms, in the attitude of benediction,
like the mysterious shadow of the chapel, he fell backward on the body
of the lifeless and long-neglected Job, himself perfectly dead.
"I saw an aged man upon his bier,
"His hair was thin and white, and on his brow
"A record of the cares of many a year;
"Cares that were ended and forgotten now.
"And there was sadness round, and faces bow'd,
"And woman's tears fell fast, and children wail'd aloud.
As the day advanced, the garrison of Boston was put in motion. The
same bustle, the same activity, the same gallant bearing in some, and
dread reluctance in others, were exhibited, as on the morning of the
fight of the preceding summer. The haughty temper of the royal
commander could ill brook the bold enterprise of the colonists; and,
at an early hour, orders were issued to prepare to dislodge them.
Every gun that could be brought to bear upon the hills was employed
to molest the Americans, who calmly continued their labours, while
shot were whistling around them on every side. Towards evening a
large force was embarked, and conveyed to the castle. Washington
appeared on the heights, in person, and every military evidence of the
intention of a resolute attack on one part, and of a stout resistance
on the other, became apparent.
But the fatal experience of Breed's had taught a lesson that was
still remembered. The same leaders were to be the principal actors in
the coming scene, and it was necessary to use the remnants of many of
the very regiments which had bled so freely on the former occasion.
The half-trained husbandmen of the colonies were no longer despised;
and the bold operations of the past winter, had taught the English
generals that, as subordination increased among their foes, their
movements were conducted with a more vigorous direction of their
numbers. The day was accordingly wasted in preparations. Thousands of
men slept on their arms that night, in either army, in the
expectation of rising, on the following morning, to be led to the
field of slaughter.
It is not improbable, from the tardiness of their movements, that a
large majority of the royal forces did not regret the providential
interposition, which certainly saved them torrents of blood, and not
improbably, the ignominy of a defeat. One of the sudden tempests of
the climate arose in the darkness, driving before it men and beasts,
to seek protection, in their imbecility, from the more powerful
warring of the elements. The golden moments were lost; and, after
enduring so many privations, and expending so many lives, in vain,
Howe sullenly commenced his arrangements to abandon a town, on which
the English ministry had, for years, lavished their indignation, with
all the acrimony, and, as it now seemed, with the impotency of a blind
To carry into effect this sudden and necessary determination, was
not the work of an hour. As it was the desire of the Americans,
however, to receive their town back again as little injured as
possible, they forbore to push the advantage they possessed, by
occupying those heights, which, in a great measure, commanded the
anchorage, as well as a new and vulnerable face of the defences of
the king's army. While the semblance of hostilities was maintained by
an irregular and impotent cannonade, conducted with so little spirit
as to wear the appearance of being intended only to amuse, one side
was diligently occupied in preparing to depart, and the other was
passively awaiting the moment when they might peaceably repossess
their own. It is unnecessary to remind the reader, that the entire
command of the sea, by the British, would have rendered any serious
attempt to arrest their movements, perfectly futile.
In this manner a week was passed, after the tempest had
abated—the place exhibiting throughout this period, all the hurry
and bustle, the joy and distress that such an unlooked-for event was
likely to create.
Toward the close of one of those busy and stirring days, a short
funeral train was seen issuing from a building which had long been
known as the residence of one of the proudest families in the
province. Above the outer-door of the mansion was suspended a gloomy
hatchment, charged with the `courant' deer of Lincoln, encircled by
the usnal mementos of mortality, and bearing the rare symbol of the
"bloody-hand."—This emblem of heraldic grief, which was never
adopted in the provinces, except at the death of one of high
importance, a custom that has long since disappeared with the usages
of the monarchy, had caught the eyes of a few idle boys, who alone
were sufficiently unoccupied, at that pressing moment, to note its
exhibition. With the addition of these truant urchins, the melancholy
procession took its way toward the neighbouring church-yard of the
The large bier was covered by a pall so ample that it swept the
stones of the threshold, while entering into the body of the church.
Here it was met by the divine we have had occasion to mention more
than once, who gazed, with a look of strange interest, at the solitary
and youthful mourner, that closely followed in his dark weeds. The
ceremony, however, proceeded with the usual solemuity, and the
attendants slowly moved deeper into the sacred edifice. Next to the
young man, came the well-known persons of the British
commander-in-chief, and of his quickwitted and favourite lieutenant.
Between them, walked an officer of inferior rank, who, notwithstanding
his maimed condition, had been able, by the deliberation of the
march, to beguile the ears of his companions, to the very moment of
meeting the clergyman, with some tale of no little interest, and
great apparent mystery. The remainder of the train, which consisted
only of the family of the two generals, and a few menials, came last,
if we except the idlers, who stole euriously in their footsteps.
When the service was ended, the same private communication was
resumed between the two chieftains, and their companion, and continued
until they arrived at the open vault, in a distant corner of the
enclosure. Here the low conversation ended, and the eye of Howe, which
had hitherto been riveted in deep attention on the speaker, began to
wander in the direction of the dangerous hills occupied by his
enemies. The interruption seemed to have broken the charm of the
secret conversation, and the anxious countenances of both the leaders
betrayed how soon their thoughts had wandered from a tale of great
private distress, to their own heavier cares and duties.
The bier was placed before the opening, and the assistants of the
sexton advanced to perform their office. When the pall was removed, to
the evident amazement of most of the spectators, two coffins were
exposed to view. One was clothed in black-velvet, studded with silver
nails, and ornamented after the richest fashions of human pride,
while the other lay in the simple nakedness of the clouded wood. On
the breast of the first, rose a heavy silver plate, bearing a long
inscription, and decorated with the usual devices of heraldry; and on
the latter, were simply carved on the lid, the two initial letters J.
The impatient looks of the English generals intimated to Dr.
Liturgy the value of every moment, and in less time than we consume in
relating it, the bodies of the high-descended man of wealth, and of
his nameless companion, were lowered into the vault, and left to
decay, in silent contact, with that of the woman who, in life, had
been so severe a scourge to both. After a besitation of a single
moment, in deference to the young mourner, the gentlemen present,
perceiving that he manifested a wish to remain, quitted the place in
a body, with the exception of the maimed officer, already mentioned,
whom the reader has at once recognised to be Polwarth. When the men
had replaced the stone above the mouth of the vault, securing it by a
stout bar of iron and a beavy lock, they delivered the key to the
principal actor in the scene. He received it in silence, and dropping
gold into their hands, motioned to them to depart.
In another instant a careless observer would have thought that
Lionel and his friend were the only living possessors of the
church-yard. But under the adjoining wall, partly hid from
observation by the numerous head-stones, was the form of a woman,
bowed to the earth, while her figure was concealed by the cloak she
had gathered sbapelessly about her. As soon as the gentlemen
perceived they were alone, they slowly advanced to the side of this
Their approaching footsteps were not unheeded, though, instead of
facing those who so evidently wished to address her, she turned to the
wall, and began to trace, with unconscious fingers, the letters of a
tablet in slate, which was let into the brick-work, to mark the
position of the tomb of the Lechmeres.
"We can do no more," said the young mourner— "all now rests with
a mightier hand than any of earth."
The squalid limb that was thrust from beneath the red garment,
trembled, but it still continued its unmeaning employment.
"Sir Lionel Lincoln speaks to you," said Polwarth, on whose arm the
youthful baronet leaned.
"Who!" shrieked Abigail Pray, casting aside her covering, and
baring those sunken features, on which misery had made terrible
additional inroads, within a few days—"I had forgotten—I had
forgotten! the son succeeds the father; but the mother must follow her
child to the grave!"
"He is honourably interred with those of his blood, and by the side
of one who loved his simple integrity!"
"Yes, he is better lodged in death, than he was in life! Thank God!
he can never know cold nor hunger more!"
"You will find that I have made a provision for your future
comfort; and I trust, that the close of your life will be happier than
"I am alone," said the woman, hoarsely. "The old will avoid me, and
the young will look upon me in scorn! Perjury and revenge lie heavy
on my soul!"
The young baronet was silent, but Polwarth assumed the right to
"I will not pretend to assert," said the worthy captain, "that
these are not both wicked companions; but I have no doubt you will
find somewhere in the Bible, a suitable consolation for each
particular offence. Let me recommend to you a hearty diet, and I'll
answer for an easy conscience. I never knew the prescription fail.
Look about you in the world—does your well-fed villain feel
remorse! No; ít's only when his stomach is empty that he begins to
think of his errors! I would also suggest the expediency of commencing
soon, with something substantial, as you show, altogether, too much
bone, at present, for a thriving condition. I would not wish to say
any thing distressing, but we both of us may remember a case, where
the nourishment came too late."
"Yes, yes, it came too late!" murmured the conscience-stricken
woman—"all comes too late! even the penitence, I fear!"
"Say not so," observed Lionel; "you do outrage to the promises of
one who never spoke false."
Abigail stole a fearful glance at him, which expressed all the
secret terror of her soul, as she half whispered—
"Who witnessed the end of Madam Lechmere! did her spirit pass in
Sir Lionel, again, remained profoundly silent.
"I thought it," she continued—"'tis not a sin to be forgotten on
a death-bed! To plot evil, and call on God, aloud, to look upon it!
Ay! and to madden a brain, and strip a soul like his to nakedness!
Go," she added, beckoning them away with earnestness—"ye are young
and happy; why should ye linger near the grave! Leave me, that I may
pray among the tombs! If any thing oan smooth the bitter moment, it is
Lionel dropped the key he held in his hand at her feet, and said,
before he left her—
"Yon vault is closed for ever, unless, at your request, it should
be opened at some future time, to place you by the side of your son.
The children of those who built it, are already gathered there, with
the exception of two, who go to the other hemisphere to leave their
bones. Take it, and may heaven forgive you, as I do."
He let fall a heavy purse by the side of the key, and, without
uttering more, he again took the arm of Polwarth, and together they
left the place. As they turned through the gate-way, into the street,
each stole a glance at the distant woman. She had risen to her knees;
her hands had grasped a head-stone, and her face was bowed nearly to
the earth, while by the writhing of her form, and the humility of her
attitude, it was apparent that her spirit struggled powerfully with
the Lord for mercy.
Three days afterwards, the Americans entered, triumphantly, on the
retiring footsteps of the royal army. The first among them, who
hastened to visit the graves of their fathers, found the body of a
woman, who had, seemingly, died under the severity of the season. She
had unlocked the vault, in a vain effort to reach her child, and
there her strength had failed her. Her limbs were decently stretched
on the faded grass, while her features were composed, exhibiting in
death the bland traces of that remarkable beauty which had
distinguished and betrayed her youth. The gold still lay neglected,
where it had fallen.
The amazed townsmen avoided this spectacle with horror, rushing
into other places to gaze at the changes and the destruction of their
beloved birth-place. But a follower of the royal army, who had
lingered to plunder, and who had witnessed the interview between the
officers and Abigail, shortly succeeded them. He lifted the flag, and
lowering the body, closed the vault; then hurling away the key, he
seized the money, and departed.
The slate has long since mouldered from the wall; the sod has
covered the stone, and few are left who can designate the spot where
the proud families of Lechmere and Lincoln were wont to inter their
Sir Lionel and Polwarth proceeded, in the deepest silence, to the
long-wharf, where a boat received them. They were rowed to the
much-admired frigate, that was standing off-and-on, under easy sail,
waiting their arrival. On her decks they met Agnes Danforth, with her
eyes softened by tears, though a rich flush mantled on her cheeks, at
witnessing the compelled departure of those invaders she had never
"I have only remained to give you a partingkiss, cousin Lionel,"
said the frank girl, affectionately saluting him, "and now shall take
my leave, without repeating those wishes that you know are so often
conveyed in my prayers."
"You will then leave us?" said the young baronet, smiling for the
first time in many-a-day. "You know that this cruelty"—
He was interrupted by a loud hem from Polwarth, who advanced, and
taking the hand of the lady, repeated his wish to retain it for ever,
for at least the fiftieth time. She heard him, in silence, and with
much apparent respect, though an arch smile stole upon her gravity,
before he had ended. She then thanked him with suitable grace, and
gave a final and decided refusal. The captain sustained the repulse
like one who had seen much similar service, and politely lent his
assistance to help the obdurate girl into her boat. Here she was
received by a young man who was apparelled like an American officer.
Sir Lionel thought the bloom on her cheek deepened, as her companion,
assiduously, drew a cloak around her form to protect her from the
chill of the water. Instead of returning to the town, the boat, which
hore a flag, pulled directly for the shore occupied by the Americans.
The following week Agnes was united to this gentleman, in the bosom of
her own family. They soon after took quiet possession of the house in
Tremont-street, and of all the large real estate left by Mrs.
Lechmere, which had been previously bestowed on her, by Cecil, as a
As soon as his passengers appeared, the captain of the frigate
communicated with his admiral, by signal, and received, in return, the
expected order to proceed in the execution of his trust. In a few
minutes the swift vessel was gliding by the heights of Dorchester,
training her guns on the adverse hills, and hurriedly spreading her
canvass as she passed. The Americans, however, looked on in sullen
silence, and she was suffered to gain the open ocean, unmolested, when
she made the best of her way to England, with the important
intelligence of the intended evacuation.
She was speedily followed by the fleet, since which period the
long-oppressed and devoted town of Boston has never been visited by an
During their passage to England, sufficient time was allowed
Lionel, and his gentle companion, to reflect on all that had occurred.
Together, and in the fullest confidence, they traced the wanderings
of intellect which had so closely and mysteriously connected the
deranged father with his impotent child; and as they reasoned, by
descending to the secret springs of his disordered impulses, they were
easily enabled to divest the incidents we have endeavoured to relate,
of all their obscurity and doubt.
The keeper who had been sent in quest of the fugitive madman, never
returned to his native land. No offers of forgiveness could induce
the unwilling agent in the death of the Baronet, to trust his person,
again, within the influence of the British laws. Perhaps he was
conscious of a motive that none but an inward monitor might detect.
Lionel, tired at length with importuning without success, commissioned
the husband of Agnes to place him in a situation, where, by industry,
his future comfort was amply secured.
Polwarth died quite lately. Notwithstanding his maimed limb, he
contrived, by the assistance of his friend, to ascend the ladder of
promotion, by regular gradations, nearly to its summit. At the close
of his long life, he wrote Gen., Bart. and M. P. after his name. When
England was threatened with the French invasion, the garrison he
commanded was distinguished for being better provisioned than any
other in the realm, and no doubt it would have made a resistance
equal to its resources. In Parliament, where he sat for one of the
Lincoln boroughs, he was chiefly distinguished for the patience with
which he listened to the debates, and for the remarkable cordiality
of the `ay' that he pronounced on every vote for supplies. To the day
of his death, he was a strenuous advocate for the virtues of a rich
diet, in all cases of physical suffering, "especially," as he would
add, with an obstinacy that fed itself, "in instances of debility
from febrile symptoms."
Within a year of their arrival, the uncle of Cecil died, having
shortly before followed an only son to the grave. By this unlooked-for
event, Lady Lincoln became the possessor of his large estates, as
well as of an ancient Barony, that descended to the heirs general.
From this time, until the eruption of the French revolution, Sir
Lionel Lincoln, and Lady Cardonnell, as Cecil was now styled, lived
together in sweetest concord, the gentle influence of her affection
moulding and bending the feverish temperament of her husband, at
will. The heir-loom of the family, that distempered feeling so often
mentioned, was forgotten, in the even tenor of their happiness. When
the heaviest pressure on the British constitution was apprehended, and
it became the policy of the minister to enlist the wealth and talent
of his nation in its support, by propping the existing administration,
the rich Baronet received a peerage in his own person. Before the end
of the century he was further advanced to a dormant Earldom, that
had, in former ages, been one of the honours of an elder branch of his
Of all the principal actors in the foregoing tale, not one is now
living. Even the roses of Cecil and Agnes have long since ceased to
bloom, and Death has gathered them, in peace and innocence, with all
that had gone before. The historical facts of our legend are beginning
to be obscured by time; and it is more than probable, that the
prosperous and affluent English peer, who now enjoys the honours of
the house of Lincoln, never knew the secret history of his family,
while it sojourned in a remote province of the British empire.