In the Valley
Part 4 out of 6
situation. At last I said:
"Can I do anything? You all must know up there that I am with you, heart
Major Jelles looked meditatively at me, through his fog of smoke.
"Yes, we never doubted that. But we are not agreed how you can best serve
us. You are our best-schooled young man; you know how to write well, and
to speak English like an Englishman. Some think you can be of most use
here, standing between us and the Albany committee; others say that things
would go better if we had you among us. Matters are very bad. John Johnson
is stopping travellers on the highways and searching them; we are trying
to watch the river as closely as he does the roads, but he has the courts
and the sheriff, and that makes it hard for us. I don't know what to
advise you. What do you think?"
While we were still debating the question thus raised by Major
Fonda--although I have written it in an English which the worthy soul
never attained--my cousin Teunis Van Hoorn burst into the room with
tidings from Boston which had just arrived by courier. Almost before he
could speak, the sound of cheering in the streets told me the burden of
his story. It was the tale of Bunker Hill which he shouted out to us--that
story still so splendid in our ears, but then, with all its freshness of
vigor and meaning upon us, nothing less than soul-thrilling!
An hour later Major Jelles rose, put on his coat, and said he must be off.
He would sleep that night at Mabie's, so as to have all the Tryon County
part of his ride by daylight next day, when the roads would be safer.
It was only when we were shaking hands with him at the door that I found
how the secretive Dutchman had kept his greatest, to me most vital,
tidings for the last.
"Oh, yes!" he said, as he stood in the doorway; "perhaps I did not mention
it. Young Cross has left his home and gone to join Guy Johnson and the
Butlers. They say he had angry words with his wife--your Daisy--before he
deserted her. She has come back to the Cedars again to live!"
The Master and Mistress of Cairncross.
There is the less need to apologize for now essaying to portray sundry
scenes of which I was not an actual witness, in that the reader must by
this time be heartily disposed to welcome an escape from my wearisome
_ego_, at any expense whatsoever of historical accuracy. Nor is it
essential to set forth in this place the means by which I later came to be
familiar with the events now to be described--means which will be apparent
enough as the tale unfolds.
Dusk is gathering in the great room to the right and rear of the wide hall
at Cairncross, and a black servant has just brought in candles, to be
placed on the broad marble mantel, and on the oaken table in the centre of
the room. The soft light mellows the shadows creeping over the white and
gold panelling of the walls, and twinkles faintly in reflection back from
the gilt threads in the heavy curtains; but it cannot dispel the gloom
which, like an atmosphere, pervades the chamber. Although it is June, and
warm of mid-days, a fire burns on the hearth, slowly and spiritlessly, as
if the task of imparting cheerfulness to the room were beyond
Close by the fireplace, holding over it, in fact, his thin, wrinkled
hands, sits an old man. At first glance, one would need to be told that it
was Mr. Stewart, so heavily has Time laid his weight upon him in these
last four years. There are few enough external suggestions now of the
erect, soldierly gentleman, swift of perception, authoritative of tone,
the prince of courtiers in bearing, whom we used to know. The white hair
is still politely queued, and the close-shaven cheeks glisten with the
neat polish of the razor's edge; but, alas! it is scarcely the same face.
The luminous glow of the clear blue eyes has faded; the corners of the
mouth, eloquently resolute no longer, depend in weakness. As he turns now
to speak to his companion, there is a moment's relief: the voice is still
calm and full, with perhaps just a thought of change toward the
querulous in tone.
"I heard something like the sound of hoofs," he says; "doubtless it is
"Perhaps, father; but he is wont to be late, nowadays."
Here the change _is_ in the voice, if little else be altered. It is Daisy
who speaks, standing by his chair, with one hand upon his shoulder, the
other hanging listlessly at her side. Like him she looks at the
smouldering fire, preferring the silence of her own thoughts to empty
efforts at talk. The formal, unsympathetic walls and hangings seem to take
up the sad sound of her murmured words and return it to her, as if to
emphasize her loneliness.
"The rooms are so large--so cold," she says again, after a long pause, in
comment upon a little shiver which shakes the old man's bent shoulders.
"If we heaped the fireplace to the top, it could not make them seem
The last words sink with a sigh into the silence of the great room, and no
more are spoken. Both feel, perhaps, that if more were spoken there must
be tears as well. Only the poor girl presses her hand upon his arm with a
mute caress, and draws closer to his side. There is nothing of novelty to
them in this tacitly shared sense of gloom. This Thursday is as Monday
was, as any day last year was, as seemingly all days to come will be.
The misery of this marriage has never been discussed between these two.
The girl is too fond to impute blame, the old gentleman too proud to
accept it; in both minds there is the silent consciousness that into this
calamity they walked with eyes open, and must needs bear the results
without repining. And more, though there is true sympathy between the two
up to a certain point, even Daisy and Mr. Stewart have drifted apart
beyond it. Both view Philip within the house with the same eyes; the
Philip of the outer world--the little Valley-world of hot passions, strong
ambitions, fierce intolerances, growing strife and rancor--they see
differently. And this was the saddest thing of all.
Philip Cross entered abruptly, his spurs clanking with a sharp ring at his
boot-heels, and nodded with little enough graciousness of manner to the
two before the fire.
"I have not ordered supper to be laid," said Daisy; "your coming was so
uncertain. Shall I ring for it now?"
"I have eaten at the Hall," said the young man, unlocking an escritoire at
the farther end of the room as he spoke, and taking from it some papers.
He presently advanced toward the fire, holding these in his hand. He
walked steadily enough, but there was the evil flush upon his temples and
neck--a deep suffusion of color, against which his flaxen, powdered hair
showed almost white--which both knew too well.
"Who is at the Hall?" asked Mr. Stewart.
"There were good men there to-day--and a woman, too, who topped them all
in spirit and worth. We call the Indians an inferior race, but, by God!
they at least have not lost the trick of breeding women who do not
whine--who would rather show us blood than tears!"
Thus young Mr. Cross spoke, with a sulky inference in his tone, as he held
up his papers to the candle, and scanned the writings by its light.
"Ah," Mr. Stewart made answer, dissembling what pique he might have felt,
and putting real interest into his words. "Is Molly Brant, then, come down
from the Castle? What does she at the Hall? I thought Lady Johnson would
have none of her."
"Yes, she is at the Hall, or was when I left. She was sorely needed, too,
to put something like resolution into the chicken-hearts there. Things
will move now--nay, are moving! As for Lady Johnson, she is too dutiful
and wise a woman to have any wishes that are not her husband's. I would to
God there were others half so obedient and loyal as Polly Watts!"
Again there was the obvious double meaning in his sullen tone. A swift
glance flashed back and forth between Mr. Stewart and the pale-faced young
wife, and again Mr. Stewart avoided the subject at which Cross hinted.
Instead he turned his chair toward the young man, and said:
"Things are moving, you say. What is new?"
"Why, this is new," answered Cross, lowering the papers for the moment,
and looking down upon his questioner: "blood runs now at last instead of
milk in the veins of the king's men. We will know where we stand. We will
master and punish disloyalty; we will brook not another syllable of
"Yes, it has been let to run overlong," said Mr. Stewart. "Often enough,
since Sir William died, have I wished that I were a score of years
younger. Perhaps I might have served in unravelling this unhappy tangle of
misunderstandings. The new fingers that are picking at the knot are honest
enough, but they have small cunning."
"That as you will; but there is to be no more fumbling at the knot. We
will cut it now at a blow--cut it clean and sharp with the tomahawk!"
An almost splendid animation glowed in the young man's eyes as he spoke,
and for the nonce lit up the dogged hardness of his face. So might the
stolid purple visage of some ancestral Cross have become illumined, over
his heavy beef and tubs of ale, at the stray thought of spearing a boar at
bay, or roasting ducats out of a Jew. The thick rank blood of centuries
of gluttonous, hunting, marauding progenitors, men whose sum of delights
lay in working the violent death of some creature--wild beast or human, it
mattered little which--warmed in the veins of the young man now, at the
prospect of slaughter. The varnish of civilization melted from his
surface; one saw in him only the historic fierce, blood-letting islander,
true son of the men who for thirty years murdered one another by tens of
thousands all over England, nominally for a York or a Lancaster, but truly
from the utter wantonness of the butcher's instinct, the while we Dutch
were discovering oil-painting and perfecting the noble craft of printing
"Yes!" he repeated, with a stormy smile. "We will cut the knot with the
The quicker wit of the young woman first scented his meaning.
"You are going to bring down the savages?" she asked, with dilated eyes,
and in her emotion forgetting that it was not her recent habit to
interrogate her husband.
He vouchsafed her no answer, but made a pretence of again being engrossed
with his papers.
After a moment or two of silence the old gentleman rose to his feet,
walked over to Philip, and put his hand on the young man's arm.
"I will take my leave now," he said, in a low voice; "Eli is here waiting
for me, and the evenings grow cold."
"Nay, do not hasten your going, Mr. Stewart," said Philip, with a
perfunctory return to the usages of politeness. "You are ever
"Yes, I know," replied Mr. Stewart, not in a tone of complete conviction.
"But old bones are best couched at home."
There was another pause, the old gentleman still resting his hand
affectionately, almost deprecatingly, on the other's sleeve.
"I would speak plainly to you before I go, Philip," he said, at last. "I
pray you, listen to the honest advice of an old man, who speaks to you,
God knows, from the very fulness of his heart. I mislike this adventure at
which you hint. It has an evil source of inspiration. It is a gloomy day
for us here, and for the Colony, and for the cause of order, when the
counsels of common-sense and civilization are tossed aside, and the words
of that red she-devil regarded instead. No good will come out of it--no
good, believe me. Be warned in time! I doubt you were born when I first
came into this Valley. I have known it for decades, almost, where you have
known it for years. I have watched its settlements grow, its fields push
steadily, season after season, upon the heels of the forest. I understand
its people as you cannot possibly do. Much there is that I do not like.
Many things I would change, as you would change them. But those err
cruelly, criminally, who would work this change by the use of
"All other means have been tried, short of crawling on our bellies to
these Dutch hinds!" muttered the young man.
"You do not know what the coming of the tribes in hostility means,"
continued Mr. Stewart, with increasing solemnity of earnestness. "You were
too young to realize what little you saw, as a child here in the Valley,
of Bellêtre's raid. Sir John and Guy know scarcely more of it than you.
Twenty years, almost, have passed since the Valley last heard the Mohawk
yell rise through the night-air above the rifle's crack, and woke in
terror to see the sky red with the blaze of roof-trees. All over the world
men shudder still at hearing of the things done then. Will you be a
willing party to bringing these horrors again upon us? Think what it is
that you would do!"
"It is not I alone," Philip replied, in sullen defence. "I but cast my lot
on the king's side, as you yourself do. Only you are not called upon to
fit your action to your words; I am! Besides," he went on, sulkily, "I
have already chosen not to go with Guy and the Butlers. Doubtless they
deem me a coward for my resolution. That ought to please you."
"Go with them? Where are they going?"
"Up the river; perhaps only to the Upper Castle; perhaps to Oswego;
perhaps to Montreal--at all events, to get the tribes well in hand, and
hold them ready to strike. That is," he added, as an afterthought, "if it
really becomes necessary to strike at all. It may not come to that,
"And this flight is actually resolved upon?"
"If you call it a flight, yes! The Indian superintendent goes to see the
Indians; some friends go with him--that is all. What more natural? They
have in truth started by this time, well on their way. I was sorely
pressed to accompany them; for hours Walter Butler urged all the pleas at
his command to shake my will."
"Of course you could not go; that would have been madness!" said Mr.
Stewart, testily. Both men looked toward the young wife, with instinctive
concert of thought.
She sat by the fire, with her fair head bent forward in meditation; if she
had heard the conversation, or knew now that they were thinking of her,
she signified it not by glance or gesture.
"No, of course," said Philip, with a faltering disclaimer. "Yet they urged
me strenuously. Even now they are to wait two days at Thompson's on
Cosby's Manor, for my final word--they choosing still to regard my coming
"Fools!" broke in the old gentleman. "It is not enough to force war upon
their neighbors, but they must strive to destroy what little happiness I
have remaining to me!" His tone softened to one of sadness, and again he
glanced toward Daisy. "Alas, Philip," he said, mournfully, "that it
_should_ be so little!"
The young man shifted his attitude impatiently, and began scanning his
papers once more. A moment later he remarked, from behind the manuscripts:
"It is not we who begin this trouble. These committees of the rebel
scoundrels have been active for months, all about us. Lying accounts to
our prejudice are ceaselessly sent down to the committees at Schenectady
and Albany, and from these towns comes back constant encouragement to
disorder and bad blood. If they will have it so, are we to blame? You
yourself spoke often to me, formerly, of the dangerous opinions held by
the Dutch here, and the Palatines up the river, and, worst of all, by
those canting Scotch-Irish Presbyterians over Cherry Valley way. Yet now
that we must meet this thing, you draw back, and would tie my hands as
well. But doubtless you are unaware of the lengths to which the Albany
conspirators are pushing their schemes."
"I am not without information," replied Mr. Stewart, perhaps in his desire
to repudiate the imputation of ignorance revealing things which upon
reflection he would have reserved. "I have letters from my boy Douw
regularly, and of late he has told me much of the doings of the Albany
Young Cross put his papers down from before his face with a swift gesture.
Whether he had laid a trap for Mr. Stewart or not, is doubtful; we who
knew him best have ever differed on that point. But it is certain that his
manner and tone had changed utterly in the instant before he spoke.
"Yes!" he said, with a hard, sharp inflection; "it is known that you hold
regular correspondence with this peculiarly offensive young sneak and spy.
Let me tell you frankly, Mr. Stewart, that this thing is not liked
overmuch. These are times when men, even old men, must choose their side
and stand to it. People who talk in one camp and write to the other
subject themselves to uncomfortable suspicions. Men are beginning to
recall that you were in arms against His Majesty King George the Second,
and to hint that perhaps you are not precisely overflowing with loyalty to
his grandson, though you give him lip-service readily enough. As you were
pleased to say to me a few minutes ago, 'Be warned in time,' Mr. Stewart!"
The old gentleman had started back as if struck by a whip at the first
haughty word's inflection. Gradually, as the impertinent sentences
followed, he had drawn up his bent, slender frame until he stood now
erect, his hooked nose in the air, and his blue eyes flashing. Only the
shrunken lips quivered with the weakness of years, as he looked tall young
Mr. Cross full in the face.
"Death of my life!" he stammered. "_You_ are saying these things to _me_!
It is Tony Cross's son whom I listen to--and _her_ son--the young man to
whom I gave my soul's treasure!"
Then he stopped, and while his eyes still glowed fiery wrath the trembling
lips became piteous in their inability to form words. For a full minute
the fine old soldier stood, squared and quivering with indignation. What
he would have said, had he spoken, we can only guess. But no utterance
came. He half-raised his hand to his head with a startled movement; then,
seeming to recover himself, walked over to where Daisy sat, ceremoniously
stooped to kiss her forehead, and, with a painfully obvious effort to keep
his gait from tottering, moved proudly out of the room.
When Philip, who had dumbly watched the effect of his words, turned
about, he found himself confronted with a woman whom he scarcely knew to
be his wife, so deadly pale and drawn was her face, so novel and startling
were the glance and gesture with which she reared herself before him.
How Philip in Wrath, Daisy in Anguish, Fly Their Home.
"You are, then, not even a gentleman!"
The ungracious words came almost unbidden from Daisy's pallid lips, as
husband and wife for the first time faced each other in anger. She could
not help it. Passive, patient, long-suffering she had been the while the
mortifications and slights were for herself. But it was beyond the
strength of her control to sit quietly by when Mr. Stewart was also
Through all the years of her life she had been either so happy in her
first home, or so silently loyal to duty in her second, that no one had
discovered in Daisy the existence of a strong spirit. Sweet-tempered,
acquiescent, gentle, every one had known her alike in joy or under the
burden of disappointment and disillusion. "As docile as Daisy" might have
been a proverb in the neighborhood, so general was this view of her
nature. Least of all did the selfish, surly-tempered, wilful young
Englishman who was her husband, and who had ridden rough-shod over her
tender thoughts and dreams these two years, suspect that she had in her
the capabilities of flaming, wrathful resistance.
He stared at her now, at first in utter bewilderment, then with the
instinct of combat in his scowl.
"Be careful what you say!" he answered, sharply. "I am in no mood for
"Nay, mood or no mood, I shall speak. Too long have I held my peace. You
should be ashamed in every recess of your heart for what you have said and
done this day!" She spoke with a vibrant fervency of feeling which for the
moment pierced even his thick skin.
"He was over-hasty," he muttered, in half-apology. "What I said was for
his interest. I intended no offence."
"Will you follow him, and say so?"
"Certainly not! If he chooses to take umbrage, let him. It's no affair of
"Then _I_ will go--and not return until he comes with me, invited by you!"
The woman's figure, scornfully erect, trembled with the excitement of the
position she had on the moment assumed; but her beautiful face, refined
and spiritualized of late by the imprint of womanhood's saddening wisdom,
was coldly resolute. By contrast with the burly form and red, rough
countenance of the man she confronted, she seemed made of another clay.
"Yes, I will go!" she went on, hurriedly. "This last is too much! It is
not fit that I should keep up the pretence longer."
The husband burst out with a rude and somewhat hollow laugh. "Pretence,
you say! Nay, madam, you miscall it. A pretence is a thing that deceives,
and I have never been deceived. Do not flatter yourself. I have read you
like a page of large print, these twenty months. Like the old gaffer
whose feathers I ruffled here a while ago with a few words of truth, your
tongue has been here, but your thoughts have been with the Dutchman
The poor girl flushed and recoiled under the coarse insult, and the words
did not come readily with which to repel it.
"I know not how to answer insolence of this kind," she said, at last. "I
have been badly reared for such purposes."
She felt her calmness deserting her as she spoke; her eyes began to burn
with the starting tears. This crisis in her life had sprung into being
with such terrible swiftness, and yawned before her now, as reflection
came, with such blackness of unknown consequences, that her woman's
strength quaked and wavered. The tears found their way to her cheeks now,
and through them she saw, not the heavy, half-drunken young husband, but
the handsome, slender, soft-voiced younger lover of three years ago. And
then the softness came to her voice too.
"How _can_ you be so cruel and coarse, Philip, so unworthy of your real
self?" She spoke despairingly, not able wholly to believe that the old
self was the true self, yet clinging, woman-like, to the hope that she
"Ha! So my lady has thought better of going, has she?"
"Why should you find pleasure in seeking to make this home impossible for
me, Philip?" she asked, in grave gentleness of appeal.
"I thought you would change your tune," he sneered back at her, throwing
himself into a chair. "I have a bit of counsel for you. Do not venture
upon that tone with me again. It serves with Dutch husbands, no doubt; but
I am not Dutch, and I don't like it."
She stood for what seemed to be a long time, unoccupied and irresolute, in
the centre of the room. It was almost impossible for her to think clearly
or to see what she ought to do. She had spoken in haste about leaving the
house, and felt now that that would be an unwise and wrongful step to
take. Yet her husband had deliberately insulted her, and had coldly
interpreted as weak withdrawals her conciliatory words, and it was very
hard to let this state of affairs stand without some attempt at its
improvement. Her pride tugged bitterly against the notion of addressing
him again, yet was it not right that she should do so?
The idea occurred to her of ringing for a servant and directing him to
draw off his master's boots. The slave-boy who came in was informed by a
motion of her finger, and, kneeling to the task, essayed to lift one of
the heavy boots from the tiled hearth. The amiable Mr. Cross allowed the
foot to be raised into the boy's lap. Then he kicked the lad backward,
head over heels, with it, and snapped out angrily:
"Get away! When I want you, I'll call!"
The slave scrambled to his feet and slunk out of the room. The master sat
in silence, moodily sprawled out before the fire. At last the wife
approached him, and stood at the back of his chair.
"You are no happier than I am, Philip," she said. "Surely there must be
some better way to live than this. Can we not find it, and spare ourselves
all this misery?"
"What misery?" he growled. "There is none that I know, save the misery of
having a wife who hates everything her husband does. The weather-cock on
the roof has more sympathy with my purposes and aims than you have. At
least once in a while he points my way."
"Wherein have I failed? When have you ever temperately tried to set me
aright, seeing my errors?"
"There it is--the plausible tongue always. 'When have I done this, or
that, or the other?' It is not one thing that has been done, madam, but
ten thousand left undone! What did I need--having lands, money,
position--to make me the chief gentleman of Tryon County, and this house
of mine the foremost mansion west of Albany, once Sir William was dead?
Naught but a wife who should share my ambitions, enter into my plans,
gladly help to further my ends! I choose for this a wife with a pretty
face, a pretty manner, a tidy figure which carries borrowed satins
gracefully enough--as I fancy, a wife who will bring sympathy and
distinction as well as beauty. Well, I was a fool! This precious wife of
mine is a Puritan ghost who gazes gloomily at me when we are alone, and
chills my friends to the marrow when they are ill-advised enough to visit
me. She looks at the wine I lift to my lips, and it sours in the glass.
She looks into my kennels, and it is as if turpentine had been rubbed on
the hounds' snouts. This great house of mine, which ought of right to be
the gallant centre of Valley life and gayety, stands up here, by God! Like
a deserted churchyard. Men avoid it as if a regicide had died here. I
might have been Sir Philip before this, and had his Majesty's commission
in my pocket, but for this petticoated skeleton which warns off pleasure
and promotion. And then she whines, 'What have I done?'"
"You are clever enough, Philip, to have been anything you wanted to be, if
only you had started with more heart and less appetite for pleasure. It is
not your wife, but your wine, that you should blame."
"Ay, there it comes! And even if it were true--as it is not, for I am as
temperate as another--it would be you who had driven me to it."
"Folly, madam? By Heaven, I will not--"
"Nay, listen to me, Philip, for the once. We may not speak thus frankly
again; it would have been better had we freed our minds in this plain
fashion long ago. It is not poor me, but something else, that in two years
has changed you utterly. To-day you could no more get your mind into the
same honest course of thoughts you used to hold than you could your body
into your wedding waistcoat. You talk now of ambitions; for the moment you
really think you had ambitions, and because they are only memories, you
accuse me. Tell me truly, what were your ambitions? To do nothing but
please yourself--to ride, hunt, gamble, scatter money, drink till you
could drink no more. Noble aspirations these for which to win the sympathy
of a wife!"
Philip had turned himself around in his chair, and was looking steadily at
her. She found the courage to stand resolute under the gaze and return it.
"There is one point on which I agree with you," he said, slowly: "I am not
like ever again to hear talk of this kind under my roof. But while we are
thus amiably laying our hearts bare to each other, there is another thing
to be said. Everywhere it is unpleasantly remarked that I am not master in
my own house--that here there are two kinds of politics--that I am loyal
and my wife is a rebel."
"Oh, that is unfair! Truly, Philip, I have given no cause for such speech.
Not a word have I spoken, ever, to warrant this. It would be not only
wrong but presuming to do so, since I am but a woman, and have no more
than a woman's partial knowledge of these things. If you had ever asked me
I would have told you frankly, that, as against the Johnsons and Butlers
and Whites, my feelings were with the people of my own flesh and blood;
but as to my having ever spoken--"
"Yes, I know what you would say," he broke in, with cold, measured words.
"I can put it for you in a breath--I am an English gentleman; you are a
She looked at him, speechless and mentally staggered. In all her life it
had never occurred to her that this thing could be thought or said. That
it should be flung thus brutally into her face now by her husband--and he
the very man who as a boy had saved her life--seemed to her astonished
sense so incredible that she could only stare, and say nothing.
While she still stood thus, the young aristocrat rose, jerked the
bell-cord fiercely, and strode again to the escritoire, pulling forth
papers from its recesses with angry haste.
"Send Rab to me on the instant!" he called out to the slave who appeared.
The under-sized, evil-faced creature who presently answered this summons
was the son of a Scotch dependent of the Johnsons, half tinker, half
trapper, and all ruffian, by an Indian wife. Rab, a young-old man, had the
cleverness and vices of both strains of blood, and was Philip's most
trusted servant, as he was Daisy's especial horror. He came in now, his
black eyes sparkling close together like a snake's, and his miscolored
hair in uncombed tangle hanging to his brows. He did not so much as glance
at his mistress, but went to Philip, with a cool--
"What is it?"
"There is much to be done to-night, Rab," said the master, assorting
papers still as he spoke. "I am leaving Cairncross on a journey. It may be
a long one; it may not."
"It will at least be as long as Thompson's is distant," said the familiar.
"Oh, you know, then," said Philip. "So much the better, when one deals
with close tongues. Very well. I ride to-night. Do you gather the things
I need--clothes, money, trinkets, and what not--to be taken with me. Have
the plate, the china, the curtains, pictures, peltries, and such like,
properly packed, to be sent over to the Hall with the horses and dogs in
the early morning. I shall ride all night, and all to-morrow if needs be.
When you have seen the goods safely at the Hall, deliver certain letters
which I shall presently write, and return here. I leave you in charge of
the estate; you will be master--supreme--and will account only to me, when
the king's men come back. I shall take Caesar and Sam with me. Have them
saddle the roan for me, and they may take the chestnut pair and lead
Firefly. Look to the saddle-bags and packs yourself. Let everything be
ready for my start at eleven; the moon will be up by then."
The creature waited for a moment after Philip had turned to his papers.
"Will you take my lady's jewels?" he asked.
"Damnation! No!" growled Philip.
"_If you do not, they shall be thrown after you_!"
It was Daisy who spoke--Daisy, who leaned heavily upon the chair-back to
keep erect in the whirling dream of bewilderment which enveloped her. The
words when they had been uttered seemed from some other lips than hers.
There was no thought in her mind which they reflected. She was too near
upon swooning to think at all.
Only dimly could she afterward recall having left the room, and the memory
was solely of the wicked gleam in the serpent eyes of her enemy Rab, and
of the sound of papers being torn by her husband, as she, dazed and
fainting, managed to creep away and reach her chamber.
* * * * *
The wakeful June sun had been up for an hour or so, intent upon the
self-appointed and gratuitous task of heating still more the sultry,
motionless morning air, when consciousness returned to Daisy. All about
her the silence was profound. As she rose, the fact that she was already
dressed scarcely interested her. She noted that the lace and velvet
hangings were gone, and that the apartment had been despoiled of much else
besides, and gave this hardly a passing thought.
Mechanically she took from the wardrobe a hooded cloak, put it about her,
and left the room. The hallways were strewn with straw and the litter of
packing. Doors of half-denuded rooms hung open. In the corridor below two
negroes lay asleep, snoring grotesquely, beside some chests at which they
had worked. There was no one to speak to her or bar her passage. The door
was unbolted. She passed listlessly out, and down the path toward
It was more like sleep-walking than waking, conscious progress--this
melancholy journey. The dry, parched grass, the leaves depending wilted
and sapless, the leaden air, the hot, red globe of dull light hanging
before her in the eastern heavens--all seemed a part of the lifeless,
hopeless pall which weighed from every point upon her, deadening thought
and senses. The difficult descent of the steep western hill, the passage
across the damp bottom and over the tumbling, shouting waters, the milder
ascent, the cooler, smoother forest walk toward the Cedars beyond--these
vaguely reflected themselves as stages of the crisis through which she had
passed: the heart-aching quarrel, the separation, the swoon, and now the
Thus at last she stood before her old home, and opened the familiar gate.
The perfume of the flowers, heavily surcharging the dewless air, seemed to
awaken and impress her. There was less order in the garden than before,
but the plants and shrubs were of her own setting. A breath of rising
zephyr stirred their blossoms as she regarded them in passing.
"They nod to me in welcome," her dry lips murmured.
A low, reverberating mutter of distant thunder came as an echo, and a
swifter breeze lifted the flowers again, and brought a whispered greeting
from the lilac-leaves clustered thick about her.
The door opened at her approach, and she saw Mr. Stewart standing there on
the threshold, awaiting her. It seemed natural enough that he should be up
at this hour, and expecting her. She did not note the uncommon whiteness
of his face, or the ceaseless twitching of his fallen lips.
"I have come home to you, father," she said, calmly, wearily.
He gazed at her without seeming to apprehend her meaning.
"I have no longer any other home," she added.
She saw the pallid face before her turn to wax shot over with green and
brazen tints. The old hands stretched out as if to clutch hers--then
Something had dropped shapeless, bulky at her feet and she could not see
Mr. Stewart. Instead here was a reeling vision of running slaves of a form
lifted and borne in, and then nothing but a sinking away of self amid the
world-shaking roar of thunder and blazing lightning streaks.
The Night Attack upon Quebec--And My Share in It.
Of these sad occurrences it was my fortune not to be informed for many
months. In some senses this was a beneficent ignorance. Had I known that,
under the dear old roof which so long sheltered me, Mr. Stewart was
helplessly stricken with paralysis, and poor Daisy lay ill unto death with
a brain malady, the knowledge must have gone far to unfit me for the work
which was now given into my hands. And it was work of great magnitude and
Close upon the heels of the Bunker Hill intelligence came the news that a
Continental army had been organized; that Colonel Washington of Virginia
had been designated by Congress as its chief, and had started to assume
command at Cambridge; and that our own Philip Schuyler was one of the four
officers named at the same time as major-generals. There was great
pleasure in Albany over the tidings; the patriot committee began to
prepare for earnest action, and our Tory mayor, Abraham Cuyler,
sagaciously betook himself off, ascending the Mohawk in a canoe, and
making his way to Canada.
Among the first wishes expressed by General Schuyler was one that I
should assist and accompany him, and this, flattering enough in itself,
was made delightful by the facts that my friend Peter Gansevoort was named
as another aide, and that my kinsman Dr. Teunis was given a professional
place in the general's camp family. We three went with him to the
headquarters at Cambridge very shortly after, and thenceforward were too
steadily engrossed with our novel duties to give much thought to
It was, indeed, a full seven months onward from the June of which I have
written that my first information concerning the Cedars, and the dear folk
within its walls, came to me in a letter from my mother. This letter found
me, of all unlikely places in the world, lying in garrison on the frozen
bank of the St. Lawrence--behind us the strange, unnatural silence of the
northern waste of snow, before us the black, citadel-crowned,
fire-spitting rock of Quebec.
Again there presses upon me the temptation to put into this book the story
of what I saw there while we were gathering our strength and resolution
for the fatal assault. If I am not altogether proof against its wiles, at
least no more shall be told of it than properly belongs here, insomuch as
this is the relation of my life's romance.
We had started in September with the expedition against Canada, while it
was under the personal command of our general; and when his old sickness
came unluckily upon him and forced his return, it was at his request that
we still kept on, under his successor, General Richard Montgomery. It was
the pleasanter course for us, both because we wanted to see fighting, and
because Montgomery, as the son-in-law of Mr. Livingston, was known to us
and was our friend. And so with him we saw the long siege of St. John's
ended, and Chambly, and then Montreal, Sorel, and Three Rivers, one by one
submit, and the _habitants_ acclaim us their deliverers as we swept the
country clean to the gates of Quebec.
To this place we came in the first week of December, and found bold Arnold
and his seven hundred scarecrows awaiting us. These men had been here for
a month, yet had scarcely regained their strength from the horrible
sufferings they encountered throughout their wilderness march. We were by
this time not enamoured of campaigning in any large degree, from our own
experience of it. Yet when we saw the men whom Arnold and Morgan had led
through the trackless Kennebec forest, and heard them modestly tell the
story of that great achievement--of their dreadful sustained battle with
cold, exhaustion, famine, with whirling rapids, rivers choked with ice,
and dangerous mountain precipices--we felt ashamed at having supposed we
knew what soldiering was.
Three weeks we lay waiting. Inside, clever Carleton was straining heaven
and earth in his endeavor to strengthen his position; without, we could
only wait. Those of us who were from the Albany and Mohawk country came to
learn that some of our old Tory neighbors were within the walls, and the
knowledge gave a new zest to our eager watchfulness.
This, it should be said, was more eager than sanguine. It was evident from
the outset that, in at least one respect, we had counted without our host.
The French-Canadians were at heart on our side, perhaps, but they were not
going to openly help us; and we had expected otherwise. Arnold himself,
who as an old horse-dealer knew the country, had especially believed in
their assistance and sympathy, and we had bills printed in the French
language to distribute, calling upon them to rise and join us. That they
did not do so was a grievous disappointment from the beginning.
Yet we might have been warned of this. The common people were friendly to
us--aided us privily when they could--but they were afraid of their
seigneurs and curés. These gentry were our enemies for a good reason--in
their eyes we were fighting New England's fight, and intolerant New
England had only the year before bitterly protested to Parliament against
the favor shown the Papist religion in Quebec. These seigneurs and priests
stood together in a common interest. England had been shrewd enough to
guarantee them their domains and revenues. Loyalty meant to them the
security of their _rentes et dîmes_, and they were not likely to risk
these in an adventure with the Papist-hating Yankees. Hence they stood by
England, and, what is more, held their people practically aloof from us.
But even then we could have raised Canadian troops, if we had had the
wherewithal to feed or clothe or arm them. But of this Congress had taken
no thought. Our ordnance was ridiculously inadequate for a siege; our
clothes were ragged and foul, our guns bad, our powder scanty, and our
food scarce. Yet we were deliberately facing, in this wretched plight, the
most desperate assault of known warfare.
The weeks went by swiftly enough. Much of the time I was with the
commander at our headquarters in Holland House, and I grew vastly attached
to the handsome, gracious, devoted young soldier. Brigadier-General
Montgomery had not, perhaps, the breadth of character that made Schuyler
so notable; which one of all his contemporaries, save Washington, for that
matter, had? But he was very single-minded and honorable, and had much
charm of manner. Often, during those weeks, he told me of his beautiful
young wife, waiting for his return at their new home on the Hudson, and of
his hope soon to be able to abandon the strife and unrest of war, and
settle there in peace. Alas! it was not to be so.
And then, again, we would adventure forth at night, when there was no
moon, to note what degree of vigilance was observed by the beleaguered
force. This was dangerous, for the ingenious defenders hung out at the
ends of poles from the bastions either lighted lanterns or iron pots
filled with blazing balsam, which illuminated the ditch even better than
the moon would have done. Often we were thus discovered and fired upon,
and once the General had his horse killed under him.
I should say that he was hardly hopeful of the result of the attack
already determined upon. But it was the only thing possible to be done,
and with all his soul and mind he was resolved to as nearly do it as
The night came, the last night but one of that eventful, momentous year
1775. Men had passed each day for a week between our quarters and Colonel
Arnold's at St. Roch, concerting arrangements. There were Frenchmen inside
the town from whom we were promised aid. What we did not know was that
there were other Frenchmen, in our camp, who advised Carleton of all our
plans. The day and evening were spent in silent preparations for the
surprise and assault--if so be it the snow-storm came which was agreed
upon as the signal. Last words of counsel and instruction were spoken.
Suppressed excitement reigned everywhere.
The skies were clear and moonlit in the evening; now, about midnight, a
damp, heavy snowfall began and a fierce wind arose. So much the better for
us and our enterprise, we thought.
We left Holland House some hours after midnight, without lights and on
foot, and placed ourselves at the head of the three hundred and fifty men
whom Colonel Campbell (not the Cherry Valley man, but a vain and cowardly
creature from down the Hudson, recently retired from the British army)
held in waiting for us. Noiselessly we descended from the heights, passed
Wolfe's Cove, and gained the narrow road on the ledge under the mountain.
The General and his aide, McPherson, trudged through the deep snow ahead
of all, with Gansevoort, and me keeping up to them as well as we could.
What with the very difficult walking, the wildness of the gale, and the
necessity for silence, I do not remember that anything was said. We panted
heavily, I know, and more than once had to stop while the slender and less
eager carpenters who formed the van came up.
It was close upon the fence of wooden pickets which stretched across the
causeway at Cape Diamond that the last of these halts was made. Through
the darkness, rendered doubly dense by the whirling snowflakes with which
the wind lashed our faces, we could only vaguely discern the barrier and
the outlines of the little block-house beyond it.
"Here is our work!" whispered the General to the half-dozen nearest him,
and pointing ahead with his gauntleted hand. "Once over this and into the
guard-house, and we can never be flanked, whatever else betide."
We tore furiously at the posts, even while he spoke--we four with our
hands, the carpenters with their tools. It was the work of a moment to lay
a dozen of these; another moment and the first score of us were knee-deep
in the snow piled to one side of the guard-house door. There was a murmur
from behind which caused us to glance around. The body of Campbell's
troops, instead of pressing us closely, had lingered to take down more
pickets. Somebody--it may have been I--said, "Cowards!" Some one else,
doubtless the General, said, "Forward!"
Then the ground shook violently under our feet, a great bursting roar
deafened us, and before a scythe-like sweep of fire we at the front
tumbled and fell!
I got to my feet again, but had lost both sword and pistol in the snow. I
had been hit somewhere--it seemed in the side--but of that I scarcely
thought. I heard sharp firing and the sound of oaths and groans all around
me, so it behooved me to fight, too. There were dimly visible dark forms
issuing from the guard-house, and wrestling or exchanging blows with other
forms, now upright, now in the snow. Here and there a flash of fire from
some gun or pistol gave an instant's light to this Stygian hurly-burly.
A heavy man, coming from the door of the block-house, fired a pistol
straight at me; the bullet seemed not to have struck me, and I leaped upon
him before he could throw the weapon. We struggled fiercely backward
toward the pickets, I tearing at him with all my might, and striving with
tremendous effort to keep my wits as well as my strength about me, in
order to save my life. Curiously enough, I found that the simplest
wrestling tricks I tried I had not the power for; even in this swift
minute, loss of blood was telling on me. A ferocious last effort I made to
swing and hurl him, and, instead, went staggering down into the drift with
him on top.
As I strove still to turn, and lifted my head, a voice sounded close in my
ear, "It's you, is it? Damn you!" and then a great mashing blow on my face
ended my fight.
Doubtless some reminiscence in that voice caused my mind to carry on the
struggle in the second after sense had fled, for I thought we still were
in the snow wrestling, only it was inside a mimic fort in the clearing
around Mr. Stewart's old log-house, and I was a little boy in an apron,
and my antagonist was a yellow-haired lad with hard fists, with which he
beat me cruelly in the face--and so off into utter blackness and void
One morning in the latter half of January, nearly three weeks after, I
woke to consciousness again. Wholly innocent of the lapse of time, I
seemed to be just awakening from the dream of the snow fort, and of my
boyish fight with little Philip Cross. I smiled to myself as I thought of
it, but even while I smiled the vague shadows of later happenings came
over my mind. Little by little the outlines of that rough December night
took shape in my puzzled wits.
I had been wounded, evidently, and had been borne back to Holland House,
for I recognized the room in which I lay. My right arm was in stiff
splints; with the other hand I felt of my head and discovered that my hair
had been cut close, and that my skull and face were fairly thatched with
crossing strips of bandage. My chest, too, was girdled by similar
medicated bands. My mental faculties moved very sedately, it seemed, and I
had been pondering these phenomena for a long time when my cousin Dr.
Teunis Van Hoorn came tip-toeing into the room.
This worthy young man was sincerely delighted to find me come by my
senses once more. In his joy he allowed me to talk and to listen more than
was for my good, probably, for I had some bad days immediately following;
but the relapse did not come before I had learned much that was gravely
It is a story of sufficient sorrow and shame to American ears even
now--this tale of how we failed to carry Quebec. Judge how grievously the
recital fell upon my ears then, in the little barrack-chamber of Holland
House, within hearing of the cannonade by which the farce of a siege was
still maintained from day to day! Teunis told me how, by that first volley
of grape at the guard-house, the brave and noble Montgomery had been
instantly killed; how Arnold, forcing his way from the other direction at
the head of his men, and being early shot in the leg, had fought and
stormed like a wounded lion in the narrow Sault-au-Matelot; how he and the
gallant Morgan had done more than their share in the temerarious
adventure, and had held the town and citadel at their mercy if only the
miserable Campbell had pushed forward after poor Montgomery fell, and gone
on to meet those battling heroes in the Lower Town. But I have not the
patience, even at this late day, to write about this melancholy and
Some of our best men--Montgomery, Hendricks, Humphreys, Captain Cheseman,
and other officers, and nearly two hundred men--had been killed out-right,
and the host of wounded made veritable hospitals of both the
headquarters. Nearly half of our total original force had been taken
prisoners. With the shattered remnants of our little army we were still
keeping up the pretence of a siege, but there was no heart in our
operations, since reverse had broken the last hope of raising assistance
among the French population. We were too few in numbers to be able now to
prevent supplies reaching the town, and everybody gloomily foresaw that
when the river became free of ice, and open for the British fleet to throw
in munitions and re-enforcements, the game would be up.
All this Dr. Teunis told me, and often during the narration it seemed as
if my indignant blood would burst off the healing bandages, so angrily did
it boil at the thought of what poltroonery had lost to us.
It was a relief to turn to the question of my own adventure. It appeared
that I had been wounded by the first and only discharge of the cannon at
the guard-house, for there was discovered, embedded in the muscles over my
ribs, a small iron bolt, which would have come from no lesser firearm.
They moreover had the honor of finding a bullet in my right forearm, which
was evidently a pistol-ball. And, lastly, my features had been beaten into
an almost unrecognizable mass of bruised flesh by either a heavy-ringed
fist or a pistol-butt.
"Pete Gansevoort dragged you off on his back," my kinsman concluded. "Some
of our men wanted to go back for the poor General, and for Cheseman and
McPherson, but that Campbell creature would not suffer them. Instead, he
and his cowards ran back as if the whole King's army were at their heels.
You may thank God and Gansevoort that you were not found frozen stiff with
the rest, next morning."
"Ah, you may be sure I do!" I answered. "Can I see Peter?"
"Why, no--at least not in this God-forgotten country. He has been made a
colonel, and is gone back to Albany to join General Schuyler. And we are
to go--you and I--as soon as it suits your convenience to be able to
travel. There are orders to that purport. So make haste and get well, if
"I have been dangerously ill, have I not?"
"Scarcely that, I should say. At least, I had little fear for you after
the first week. Neither of the gunshot wounds was serious. But somebody
must have dealt you some hearty thwacks on the poll, my boy. It was these,
and the wet chill, and the loss of blood, which threw you into a fever.
But I never feared for you."
Later in the year, long after I was wholly recovered, my cousin confided
to me that this was an amiable lie, designed to instil me with that
confidence which is so great a part of the battle gained, and that for a
week or so my chance of life had been held hardly worth a _son marquee_.
But I did not now know this, and I tried to fasten my mind upon that
encounter in the drift by the guard-house, which was my last recollection.
Much of it curiously eluded my mental grasp for a time; then all at once
it came to me.
"Do you know, Teunis," I said, "that I believe it was Philip Cross who
broke my head with his pistol-butt?"
"Yes, it surely was--and he knew me, too!" And I explained the grounds for
"Well, young man," said Dr. Teunis, at last, "if you do not find that
gentleman out somewhere, sometime, and choke him, and tear him up into
fiddle-strings, you've not a drop of Van Hoorn blood in your
A Crestfallen Return to Albany.
For a man who had his physician's personal assurance that there was
nothing serious in his case, I recovered my strength with vexatious
slowness. There was a very painful and wearing week, indeed, before it
became clear to me that I was even convalescent, and thereafter my
progress was wofully halting and intermittent. Perhaps health would have
come more rapidly if with every sound of the guns from the platforms, and
every rattle of the drums outside, I had not wrathfully asked myself, "Of
what use is all this now, alas!"
These bad days were nearing their end when Dr. Teunis one afternoon came
in with tidings from home. An express had arrived from Albany, bringing
the intelligence that General Wooster was shortly to come with
re-enforcements, to take over our headless command. There were many
letters for the officers as well, and among these were two for me. The
physician made some show of keeping these back from me, but the cousin
relented, and I was bolstered up in bed to read them.
One was a business epistle from Albany, enclosing a brief memorandum of
the disposition of certain moneys and goods belonging to the English
trading company whose agent I had been, and setting my mind at ease
concerning what remained of its interests.
The other was a much longer missive, written in my mother's neat,
painstaking hand, and in my mother's language. My story can be advanced in
no better way than by translating freely from the original Dutch document,
which I still have, and which shows, if nothing else, that Dame
Mauverensen had powers of directness and brevity of statement not
inherited by her son.
"_January 9,_ A. D. 1776.
"Dearly Beloved Son: This I write, being well and contented for the most
part, and trusting that you are the same. It is so long since I have seen
you--now nearly four years--that your ways are beyond me, and I offer you
no advice. People hereabout affect much satisfaction in your promotion to
be an officer. I do not conceal my preference that you should have been a
God-fearing man, though you were of humbler station. However, that I
surrendered your keeping to a papistical infidel is my own blame, and I do
not reproach you.
"The nigger Tulp, whom you sent to me upon your departure for the wars,
was more trouble than he was worth, to say nothing of his keep. He was
both lame and foolish, getting forever in my way, and crying by the hour
with fears for your safety. I therefore sent him to his old home, the
Cedars, where, as nobody now does any manner of work (your aunt being
dead, and an incapable sloven having taken her place), he will not get in
the way, and where others can help him to weep.
"When Mistress Cross came down to the Cedars last summer, having been
deserted by her worthless husband, and found Mr. Stewart stricken with
paralysis, I was moved to offer my assistance while they both lay ill. The
burden of their illness was so great that your aunt broke down under it,
but she did not die until after Mistress Cross had recovered from her
fever, and Mr Stewart had regained his speech and a small portion of his
wits. Mistress Cross was in a fair way to be despoiled of all her rightful
belongings, for she brought not so much as a clean smock away with her
from her husband's house, and there was there in charge an insolent rascal
named Rab, who, when I demanded the keys and his mistress's chattels,
essayed to turn me away. I lectured him upon his behavior in such terms
that he slunk off like a whipped dog, and presently sent to me a servant
from whom I received what I came for. She would otherwise have obtained
nothing, for, obstinate as she is in some matters, she is a timid soul at
best, and stands in mortal fear of Rab's malevolence.
"Mr. Stewart's mind is still in a sad way. He is childish beyond belief,
and talks about you as if you were a lad again, and then speaks of foreign
matters of which we know nothing, so long past are they, as if they were
still proceeding. In bodily health, he seems now somewhat stronger. I
knitted him some woollen stockings, but he would not wear them, saying
that they scratched his legs. Mistress Cross might have persuaded him out
of this nonsense, but did not see fit to do so. She also humors him in the
matter of taking him to the Papist church at Johnstown whenever the roads
are open, he having become highly devotional in his second childhood. I
was vigorously opposed to indulging this idea of his, which is almost as
sinful in her as it is superstitious and silly in him; but she would go
her own gait, and so she may for all of me.
"She insisted, too, on having one of Adam Wemple's girls in to do the work
when your aunt fell ill. I recommended to her the widow of Dirck Tappan, a
worthy and pious woman who could not sleep if there was so much as a speck
of dust on the floor under her bed, but she would not listen to me, saying
that she liked Moll Wemple and wanted her, and that she did not like Dame
Tappan and did not want her. Upon this I came home, seeing clearly that my
company was not desired longer.
"I send you the stockings which I knitted for Mr. Stewart, and sundry
other woollen trifles. Your sisters are all well, but the troubles in the
Valley take young men's thoughts unduly off the subject of marriage. If
the committee would only hang John Johnson or themselves, there would be
peace, one way or the other, and girls would get husbands again. But all
say matters will be worse before they mend.
"Affectionately, your mother,
As I look at this ancient, faded letter, which brought to me in belated
and roundabout form the tidings of Mr. Stewart's helpless condition and of
Daisy's illness and grief, I can recall that my first impulse was to
laugh. There was something so droll, yet so thoroughly characteristic of
my honest, bustling, resolute, domineering mother in the thing, that its
humor for the moment overbalanced the gravity of the news. There was no
more helpful, valuable, or good-hearted woman alive than she, provided
always it was permitted her to manage and dictate everything for
everybody. There was no limit to the trouble she would undertake, nothing
in the world she would not do, for people who would consent to be done
for, and would allow her to dominate all their thoughts and deeds. But the
moment they revolted, or showed the weakest inclination to do things their
own way, she blazed up and was off like a rocket. Her taste for governing
was little short of a mania, and I could see, in my mind's eye, just how
she had essayed to rule Daisy, and how in her failure she had written to
me, unconsciously revealing her pique.
Poor Daisy! My thoughts had swung quickly enough from my mother to her,
and, once there, persistently lingered. She had, then, been at the Cedars
since June; she had been very ill, but now was in health again; she was a
fugitive from her rightful home, and stood in fear of her former servants;
she had upon her hands a broken old invalid, and to all his freaks and
foibles was a willing slave; she was the saddened, solitary mistress of a
large estate, with all its anxieties multiplied a hundred-fold by the
fact that these were war-times, that passions ran peculiarly high and
fierce all about her, and that her husband's remaining friends, now her
bitter foes perhaps, were in a desperate state of temper and daring.
From this grewsome revery I roused myself to exclaim: "Teunis, every day
counts now. The sooner I get home the better."
"Quite so," said he, with ready sarcasm. "We will go on snow-shoes to
Sorel to-morrow morning."
"No: you know what I mean. I want to----"
"Oh, yes, entirely so. We might, in fact, start this evening. The wolves
are a trifle troublesome just now, but with a strong and active companion,
like you, I should fear nothing."
"Will you cease jesting, Teunis! What I want now is to exhaust all means
of gaining strength--to make every hour tell upon the work of my
restoration. There is urgent need of me at home. See for yourself!" And I
gave him my mother's letter.
My cousin had had from me, during our long camp intercourse, sufficient
details of my early life to enable him to understand all my mother's
allusions. He read the letter through carefully, and smiled. Then he went
over it again, and turned grave, and began to look out of the window and
"Well," I asked, impatiently, "what is your judgment?"
"My judgment is that your mother was, without doubt, the daughter of my
great-uncle Baltus. When I was fourteen years old my father put me out of
his house because I said that cocoa-nuts grew on trees, he having been
credibly informed by a sailor that they were dug from the ground like
potatoes. Everybody said of my father, when they learned of this: 'How
much he is like his uncle, Captain Baltus.' She has the true family piety,
too. The saying in Schenectady used to be: 'The Van Hoorns are a
God-fearing people--and they have reason to be.'"
I could not but laugh at this, the while I protested that it was his views
upon the tidings in the letter that I wished.
"I agree with you that the sooner you get home the better," he said,
seriously. "The troubles in the Valley will be ripe ere long. The letters
from Albany, just arrived, are filled, they tell me, with rumors of the
doings of Johnson. General Schuyler had, at last accounts, gone up toward
Johnstown with a regiment, to discover the baronet's intentions. So get
well as fast as you like, and we will be off."
This was easy enough to say, but nearly two months went by before I was
judged able to travel. We indeed did not make a start until after General
Wooster arrived with more troops, and assumed command. Our return was
accomplished in the company of the express he sent back with news of his
arrival, and his report of the state of affairs in front of Quebec. From
our own knowledge this was very bad, what with the mutinous character of
many of the men, the total absence of subordination, and the bitter
jealousies which existed among the rival officers. Even above the joy of
turning our faces once more toward home, there rose in both of us a sense
of relief at cutting loose from an expedition which had done no good, and
that, too, at such a sad cost of suffering and bloodshed. It was
impossible to have any pride whatever in the adventure, and we had small
disposition to look people in the face, or talk with them of the siege and
attack. To do them justice, the residents of the sparsely settled
districts through which we slowly passed were civil enough. But we felt
that we were returning like detected impostors, and we had no heart for
Albany was reached at last, and there the news that the British had
evacuated Boston put us in better spirits. The spring was backward, but it
was April by the calendar if not by the tree-buds and gardens, and busy
preparations for the season's campaign were going forward. General
Schuyler took me into his own house, and insisted upon my having a full
fortnight's rest, telling me that I needed all my strength for the work he
had in mind for me. The repose was in truth grateful, after the long and
difficult journey I had performed in my enfeebled condition; and what with
books and pictures, and the journals of events that had transpired during
my long absence, and the calls of friends, and the careful kindness of the
General and his good wife, I ought to have felt myself indeed happy.
But in some senses it was to me the most vexatious fortnight of the whole
spring, for no hour of it all passed in which I was not devoured with
anxiety to be among my own people again. The General was so pre-occupied
and burdened with the stress of public and martial business, always in his
case carried on for the most part under the embarrassment of recurring
illness, that I shrank from questioning him, and the fear haunted me that
it was his intention to send me away again without a visit to my old home.
It is true that I might have pleaded an invalid's privileges, but I was
really well enough to work with prudence, and I could not offer to shirk
duty at such a time.
But in his own good time the General relieved my mind and made me ashamed
that I had ever doubted his considerateness. After breakfast one
morning--it was the first, I remember, upon which I wore the new uniform
with which I had been forced to replace the rags brought from Quebec--he
called me to him in his library, and unfolded to me his plans:
"John Johnson lied to me last January, when I went up there, disarmed his
Scotchmen, and took his parole. He lied to me here in March, when he came
down and denied that he was receiving and despatching spies through the
woods to and from Canada. The truth is not in him. During the past month
much proof has come to my hands of his hiding arms and powder and lead
near the Hall, and of his devil's work among the Mohawks, whom he plots
day and night to turn against us. All this time he keeps a smooth tongue
for us, but is conspiring with his Tory neighbors, and with those who
followed Guy to Canada, to do us a mischief. Now that General Washington
is master at Boston, and affairs are moving well elsewhere, there is no
reason for further mincing of matters in Tryon County. It is my purpose to
send Colonel Dayton to Johnstown with part of his regiment, to settle the
thing once for all. He will have the aid of Herkimer's militia if he needs
them, and will arrest Sir John, the leaders of his Scotch followers, and
all others, tenants and gentlemen alike, whose freedom is a threat to the
neighborhood. In short, he will stamp out the whole wasps nest.
"You know the Valley well, and your people are there. It is the place for
you just now. Here is your commission as major. But you are still attached
to my staff. I lend you merely to the Tryon County committee. You will go
with Dayton as far as you like--either to Caughnawaga or some near
place--perhaps your old home would suit you best. Please yourself. You
need not assist in the arrests at Johnstown; that might be painful to you.
But after Dayton's return with his prisoners you will be my representative
in that district. You have four days in which to make ready. I see the
prospect pleases you. Good! To-morrow we will discuss it further."
When I got outside I fairly leaped for joy.
I See Daisy and the Old Home Once More.
I rode beside Colonel Elias Dayton one forenoon some ten days later, up
the Valley road, my pulses beating fast at the growing familiarity of the
scene before us. We had crossed the Chuctenunda Creek, and were within
sight of the gray walls of Guy Park. Beyond rose the hills behind which
lay Fort Johnson. I was on the very threshold of my boyhood's
playfield--within a short hour's walk of my boyhood's home.
The air was full of sounds. Birds sang with merry discordance all through
the thicket to our right, flitting among the pale green tangle of spring's
foliage. The May sunshine had lured forth some pioneer locusts, whose
shrill cries came from who could tell where--the tall swale-grass on the
river edge, erect now again after the April floods, or the brown
broom-corn nearer the road, or from the sky above? We could hear the
squirrels' mocking chatter in the tree-tops, the whir of the kingfishers
along the willow-fringed water--the indefinable chorus of Nature's myriad
small children, all glad that spring was come. But above these our ears
took in the ceaseless clang of the drums, and the sound of hundreds of
armed men's feet, tramping in unison upon the road before us, behind us,
at our side.
For my second return to the Valley was at the head of troops, bringing
violence, perhaps bloodshed, in their train. I could not but contrast it
in my mind with that other home-coming, four years before, when I sat
turned to look eastward in the bow of Enoch's boat, and every soft dip of
the oars timed the glad carol in my heart of home and friends--and the
sweet maid I loved. I was so happy then!--and now, coming from the other
direction, with suggestions of force and cruel purposes in every echo of
our soldiers' tread, I was, to tell the plain truth, very
My talk with Colonel Dayton had, in a way, contributed to this gloomy
feeling. We had, from choice, ridden side by side for the better part of
two days, and, for very need of confiding in some one, I had talked with
him concerning my affairs more freely than was my wont. This was the
easier, because he was a contemplative, serious, and sensible man, whose
words and manner created confidence. Moreover, he was neither Dutchman nor
Yankee, but a native Jerseyman, and so considered my story from an equable
and fair point of view, without bias.
It was, indeed, passing strange that this man, on his way to seize or
crush the Johnson clique, as the case might be, should have been the one
to first arouse in my mind the idea that, after all, the Tories had their
good side, and were doing what to them seemed right, at tremendous cost
and sacrifice to themselves. I had been telling him what a ruffian was
Philip Cross, and what grounds I had for hating him, and despitefully
describing the other chief Tories of the district. He said in reply,
"You seem to miss the sad phase of all this, my friend. Your young blood
feels only the partisan promptings of dislike. Some day--soon, perhaps--
you will all at once find this youthful heat gone; you will begin to walk
around men and things, so to speak, and study them from all sides. This
stage comes to every sober mind; it will come to you. Then you will
realize that this baronet up yonder is, from his own stand-point, a
chivalrous, gallant loyal gentleman, who imperils estates, power, peace,
almost life itself, rather than do what he holds to be weak or wrong. Why,
take even this enemy of yours, this Cross. He was one of the notables of
these parts--rich, popular, influential; he led a life of utmost luxury
and pleasure. All this he has exchanged for the rough work of a soldier,
with its privations, cold, fatigue, and the risk of death. Ask yourself
why he did it."
"I see what you would enforce," I said. "Your meaning is that these men,
as well as our side, think the right is theirs."
"Precisely. They have inherited certain ideas. We disagree with them; we
deem it our duty to silence them, fight them, drive them out of the
country, and, with God's help, we will do it. But let us do this with our
eyes open, and with the understanding that they are not necessarily
scoundrels and heathen because they fail to see things as we see them."
"But you would not defend, surely, their plotting to use the savages
against their neighbors--against helpless women and children. That must be
heathenish to any mind."
"Defend it? No! I do not defend any acts of theirs. Rid your mind of the
idea that because a man tries to understand a thing he therefore defends
it. But I can see how they would defend it to their own consciences--just
as these thrifty Whig farmers hereabout explain in their own minds as
patriotic and public-spirited their itching to get hold of Johnson's
Manor. Try and look at things in this light. Good and bad are relative
terms; nothing is positively and unchangeably evil. Each group of men has
its own little world of reasons and motives, its own atmosphere, its own
standard of right and wrong. If you shut your eyes, and condemn or praise
these wholly, without first striving to comprehend them, you may or may
not do mischief to them; you assuredly injure yourself."
Thus, and at great length, spoke the philosophical colonel. I could not
help suspecting that he had too open a mind to be a very valuable fighter,
and, indeed, this proved to be true. He subsequently built some good and
serviceable forts along the Mohawk, one of which to this day bears his
name, but he attained no distinction as a soldier in the field.
But, none the less, his words impressed me greatly. What he said had never
been put to me in clear form before, and at twenty-seven a man's mind is
in that receptive frame, trembling upon the verge of the meditative
stage, when the presentation of new ideas like these often marks a
distinct turn in the progress and direction of his thoughts. It seems
strange to confess it, but I still look back to that May day of 1776 as
the date of my first notion that there could be anything admirable in
At the time, these new views and the tone of our talk helped to disquiet
me. The swinging lines of shoulders, the tramp! tramp! in the mud, the
sight of the guns and swords about me, were all depressing. They seemed to
give a sinister significance to my return. It was my home, the dearest
spot on earth--this smiling, peaceful, sunlit Mohawk Valley--and I was
entering it with soldiers whose mission was to seize and despoil the son
of my boyhood's friend, Sir William. More than one of my old play-mates,
now grown to man's estate, would note with despair our approach, and curse
me for being of it. The lady of Johnson Hall, to whom all this would be
horrible nigh unto death, was a close, warm friend of Daisy's. So my
thoughts ran gloomily, and I had no joy in any of the now familiar sights
The march up from Schenectady had been a most wearisome one for the men,
owing to the miserable condition of the road, never over-smooth and now
rendered doubly bad and difficult by the spring freshets and the oozing
frost. When we reached the pleasant little hollow in which Fort Johnson
nestles, a halt was accordingly ordered, and the tired soldiers prepared
to refresh themselves with food by the banks of the creek. It was now
afternoon; we were distant but a short mile from the Cedars, and I could
not abide the thought of lingering here, to no purpose, so close to the
goal of all my longings. I therefore exchanged some plans and suggestions
with Colonel Dayton and his companion Judge Duer, who represented the
civil law in the expedition, and so clapped spurs and dashed forward
up the road.
"It seems ten years, not four, since I was last here," I was saying to
Daisy half an hour later, and unconsciously framing in words the thoughts
which her face suggested.
I know not how to describe the changes which this lapse of time had
wrought upon her countenance and carriage. In the more obvious, outward
sense, it had scarcely aged her. She was now twenty-three years of age,
and I doubt a stranger would have deemed her older. Yet, looking upon her
and listening to her, I seemed to feel that, instead of being four years
her senior, I was in truth the younger of the two. The old buoyant,
girlish air was all gone, for one thing. She spoke now with gentle,
sweet-toned gravity; and her eyes, frankly meeting mine as of old, had in
their glance a soft, reposeful dignity which was new to me.
Almost another Daisy, too, she seemed in face. It was the woman in her
features, I dare say, which disconcerted me. I had expected changes,
perhaps, but not upon these lines. She had been the prettiest maiden of
the Valley, beyond all others. She was not pretty now, I should say, but
she _was_ beautiful--somewhat pallid, yet not to give an air of unhealth;
the delicate chiselling of features yielded now not merely the pleasure
of regularity, but the subtler charm of sensitive, thoughtful character.
The eyes and hair seemed a deeper hazel, a darker brown, than they had
been. The lips had lost some, thing of their childish curve, and met each
other in a straight line--fairer than ever, I thought, because more firm.
I am striving now, you see, against great odds, to revive in words the
impressions of difference which came to me in those first hours, as I
scanned her face. They furnish forth no real portrait of the dear lady:
how could I hope they should? But they help to define, even if dimly, the
changes toward strength and self-control I found in her.
I was, indeed, all unprepared for what awaited me here at the Cedars. My
heart had been torn by all manner of anxieties and concern. I had hastened
forward, convinced that my aid and protection were direly needed. I sat
now, almost embarrassed, digesting the fact that the fortunes of the
Cedars were in sufficient and capable hands.
Mr. Stewart's condition was in truth sad enough. He had greeted me with
such cordiality and clear-wittedness of utterance and manner that at first
I fancied his misfortunes to have been exaggerated in my mother's letter.
His conversation for a moment or two was also coherent and timely. But his
mind was prone to wander mysteriously. He presently said: "Assuredly I
taught you to shave with both hands. I knew I could not be mistaken." I
stole a glance toward Daisy at this, and her answering nod showed me the
whole case. It was after old Eli had come in and wheeled Mr. Stewart in
his big chair out into the garden, that I spoke to Daisy of the
differences time had wrought.
"Ay," she said, "it must be sadly apparent to you--the change in
How should I approach the subject--the one thing of which I knew we were
both thinking? There seemed a wall between us. She had been unaffectedly
glad to see me; had, for the instant, I fancied, thought to offer me her
cheek to kiss--yet was, with it all, so self-possessed and reserved that I
shrank from touching upon her trouble.
"Perhaps not everything is sad," I made answer, falteringly. "Poor Mr.
Stewart--that is indeed mournful; but, on the other hand--" I broke
"On the other hand," she took up my words calmly, "you are thinking that I
am advantaged by Philip's departure."
My face must have showed that I could not deny it.
"In some respects," she went on, "yes; in others, no. I am glad to be able
to speak freely to you, Douw, for you are nearest to me of all that are
left. I do not altogether know my own mind; for that matter, does any one?
The Philip to whom I gave my heart and whom I married is one person; the
Philip who trampled on the heart and fled his home seems quite another and
a different man. I hesitate between the two sometimes. I cannot always say
to myself: 'The first was all fancy; the second is the reality.' Rather,
they blend themselves in my mind, and I seem to see the fond lover
remaining still the good husband, if only I had had the knowledge and
tenderness to keep him so!"
"In what are you to be reproached, Daisy?" I said this somewhat testily,
for the self-accusation nettled me.
"It may easily be that I was not wise, Douw. Indeed, I showed small wisdom
from the beginning."
"It was all the doing of that old cat, Lady Berenicia!" I said, with
"Nay, blame not her alone. I was the silly girl to be thus befooled. My
heart would have served me better if it had been all good. The longing for
finery and luxury was my own. I yearned to be set above the rest. I
dreamed to be called 'My lady,' too, in good time. I forgot that I came
from the poor people, and that I belonged to them. So well and truly did I
forget this that the fact struck me like a whip when--when it was brought
to my notice."
"He taunted you with it, then!" I burst forth, my mind working quickly for
She made no answer for the time, but rose from her chair and looked out
upon the group in the garden. From the open door she saw the van of
Dayton's soldiers trudging up the Valley road. I had previously told her
of their mission and my business.
"Poor Lady Johnson," she said, resting her head against her hand on the
door-frame, and looking upon the advancing troops with a weary expression
of face. "Her trouble is coming--mine is past." Then, after a pause:
"Will they be harsh with Sir John, think you? I trust not. They have both
been kind to me since--since Philip went. Sir John is not bad at heart,
Douw, believe me. You twain never liked each other, I know. He is a bitter
man with those who are against him, but his heart is good if you touch
I had not much to say to this. "I am glad he was good to you," I managed
to utter, not over-graciously, I fear.
The troops went by, with no sound of drums now, lest an alarm be raised
prematurely. We watched them pass in silence, and soon after I took my
leave for the day, saying that I would go up to see the Fondas at
Caughnawaga, and cross the river to my mother's home, and would return
next morning. We shook hands at parting, almost with constraint.
The Arrest of Poor Lady Johnson.
Early the next day, which was May 20th, we heard to our surprise and
consternation that on the preceding afternoon, almost as Colonel Dayton
and his soldiers were entering Johnstown, Sir John and the bulk of his
Highlanders and sympathizers, to the number of one hundred and thirty, had
privately taken to the woods at the north of the Hall, and struck out
Over six weeks elapsed before we learned definitely that the baronet and
his companions had traversed the whole wilderness in safety and reached
Montreal, which now was once more in British hands--our ill-starred Quebec
expedition having finally quitted Canada earlier in the month. We could
understand the stories of Sir John's travail and privations, for the snow
was not yet out of the Adirondack trails, and few of his company were
skilled in woodmen's craft. But they did accomplish the journey, and that
in nineteen days.
I, for one, was not very much grieved at Johnson's escape, for his
imprisonment would have been an embarrassment rather than a service to us.
But Colonel Dayton was deeply chagrined at finding the bird flown, and I
fear that in the first hours of his discomfiture he may have forgotten
some of his philosophical toleration for Tories in general. He had,
moreover, the delicate question on his hands of what to do with Lady
Johnson. Neither Judge Duer nor I could advise him, and so everything was
held in suspense for the better part of a week, until General Schuyler's
decision could be had.
Meanwhile my time was fairly occupied in the fulfilment of matters
intrusted to me by the General. I had to visit Colonel Herkimer at his
home below Little Falls, and talk with him about the disagreeable fact
that his brother, Hon-Yost Herkimer, had deserted the militia command
given him by the Whigs and fled to Canada. The stout old German was free
to denounce his brother, however, and I liked the looks and blunt speech
of Peter Bellinger, who had been made colonel of the deserted battalion of
German Flatts. There were also conversations to be had with Colonel Klock,
and Ebenezer Cox, and the Fondas, at their several homes, and a day to
spend with my friend John Frey, now sheriff in place of the Tory White. It
thus happened that I saw very little of the people at the Cedars, and had
no real talk again with Daisy, until a full week had passed.
It was a cool, overcast forenoon when I alighted next at the familiar
gate, and gave my horse into Tulp's charge. The boy, though greatly
rejoiced to see me back again, had developed a curious taciturnity in
these latter years--since his accident, in fact--and no longer shouted out
the news to me at sight. Hence I had to ask him, as I neared the door,
what strange carriage was that in the yard beyond, and why it was there.
As I spoke, a couple of men lounged in view from the rear of the house,
and I recognized them as of Dayton's command. Tulp explained that Lady
Johnson was being taken away, and that she had tarried here to rest on
If I had known this at the gate, I doubt I should have stopped at all; but
I had been seen from the window, and it was too late now to turn about. So
I entered, much wishing that I had left off my uniform, or, still better,
that I had stayed away altogether.
There were present in the great room Daisy, Lady Johnson, a young lady who
was her sister, two children--and a man in civilian's garb, with some few
military touches, such as a belt and sword and a cockade, who sat by the
window, his knees impudently spread apart and his hat on his head. I
looked at this fellow in indignant inquiry.
Daisy came eagerly to me, with an explanation on her lips:
"It is the officer who is to take Lady Johnson to Albany. He insists upon
forcing his presence upon us, and will not suffer us to be alone together
in any room in the house."
"Who are you?--and off with your hat!" I said to the man, sharply.
My uniform was of service, after all. He looked me over, and evidently
remembered having seen me with his colonel, for he stood up and took off
his hat. "I am a lieutenant of the Connecticut line," he said, in a
Yankee snarl, "and I am doing my duty."
"I am a major in the Continental line, and I should be doing _my_ duty if
I sent you back in irons to your colonel," I answered. "Get out of here,
what time Lady Johnson is to remain, and leave these ladies to
He was clearly in two minds about obeying me, and I fancy it was my
superior size rather than my rank that induced him to go, which he did in
as disagreeable a fashion as possible. I made my bow to Lady Johnson, and
said something about being glad that I had come, if I had been of use.
She, poor young woman, was in a sad state of nervous excitement, what with
her delicate condition and the distressing circumstances of the past week.
She was, moreover, a very beautiful creature, naturally of soft and
refined manners, and this made me the readier to overlook the way in which
she met my kindly meant phrases.
"I marvel that you are not ashamed, Mr. Mauverensen," she said, heatedly,
"to belong to an army made up of such ruffians. Every rag of raiment that
man has on he stole from my husband's wardrobe at the Hall. To think of
calling such low fellows officers, or consorting with them!"
I answered as gently as I could that, unfortunately, there were many such
ill-conditioned men in every service, and pointed out that the man, by his
speech, was a New Englander.
"And who fetched them into this province, I should like to know!"
Nothing was further from my thoughts than to hold a political discussion
with this poor troubled wife, who saw her husband's peril, her own plight,
and the prospective birth of her first child in captivity constantly
before her eyes! So I strove to bring the talk upon other grounds, but not
with much success. She grew calmer, and with the returning calmness came a
fine, cool dignity of manner and tone which curiously reminded me of Lady
Berenicia Cross; but she could talk of nothing save her wrongs, or rather
those of her husband. She seemed not to have very clear notions of what
the trouble was all about, but ascribed it loosely, I gathered, to the
jealousy of Philip Livingston, who was vexed that the Scotch did not
settle upon his patent instead of on Sir John's land, and to the malice of
General Schuyler, whose feud with the Johnsons was notorious.
"And to think, too," she added, "that Mr. Schuyler's mother and my
mother's mother were sisters! A very pleasant and valuable cousin he is,
to be sure! Driving my husband off into the forest to perhaps die of
hunger, and dragging me down to Albany, in my condition, and thrusting a
low Connecticut cobbler into my carriage with me! If my sickness overtakes
me on the road, and I die, my blood will be on the head of Philip
I read in Daisy's eyes a way out of this painful conversation, and so
said: "Lady Johnson, it will perhaps render your journey less harrowing if
I have some talk with this officer who is your escort. Let me leave you
women-folk together here in peace, the while"--and went out into the
I found the lieutenant in the garden to the rear of the house, gossiping
in familiar style with his half-dozen men, and drew him aside for some
private words. He was sensible enough, at bottom, and when I had pointed
out to him that his prisoner was a good and kindly soul, who had been,
through no fault of her own, nurtured in aristocratic ideas and ways; that
those of whatever party who knew her well most heartily esteemed her; and
that, moreover, she was nearly related by blood to General Schuyler--he
professed himself ready to behave toward her with more politeness.
The trouble with him really lay in his abiding belief that people
underestimated his importance, and hence he sought to magnify his position
in their eyes by insolent demeanor. Therein I discerned the true Yankee.
That the men of the New England States have many excellent parts, I would
be the last to deny; but that they were in the main a quarrelsome,
intractable, mutinous, and mischief-making element in our armies during
the Revolution, is not to be gainsaid. I know, of my own knowledge, how
their fractious and insubordinate conduct grieved and sorely disheartened
poor Montgomery while we lay before Quebec. I could tell many tales, too,
of the harm they did to the cause in New York State, by their prejudices
against us, and their narrow spite against General Schuyler. So
mischievous did this attitude become at last--when old General Wooster
came to us with his Connecticut troops, and these set themselves up to be
independent of all our plans or rules, refusing even to mess with the
others or to touch Continental provisions and munitions--that Congress had
to interfere and put them sharply back into their proper places.
Jerseymen, Pennsylvanians, Virginians, and men from the Carolinas will
bear me out in saying these things about the New England soldiery. I speak
not in blame or bitterness. The truth is that they were too much akin in
blood and conceit to the English not to have in themselves many of the
disagreeable qualities which had impelled us all to revolt against
When the lieutenant had ordered the horses to be brought out for a start,
I went back into the house. The women had been weeping, I could see. Lady
Johnson had softened in her mood toward me, and spoke now some gentle
words of thanks for the little I had done. When I told her, in turn, that
her escort would henceforth be more considerate in his conduct toward her,
she was for a moment pleased, but then tears filled her eyes at the
thoughts of the journey before her.
"When I am out of sight of this house," she said, sadly, "it will seem as
if my last friend had been left behind. Why could they not have left me at
the Hall? I gave them the keys; I yielded up everything! What harm could I
have done them--remaining there? I had no wish to visit my relatives in
Albany! It is a trick--a device! I doubt I shall ever lay eyes on my dear
And, poor lady, she never did.
We strove to speak words of comfort to her, but they came but feebly, and
could not have consoled her much. When the lieutenant opened the door, the
women made a tearful adieu, with sobs and kisses upon which I could not
bear to look. Lady Johnson shook hands with me, still with a pathetic
quivering of the lips. But then in an instant she straightened herself to
her full height, bit her lips tight, and walked proudly past the obnoxious
escort down the path to the carriage, followed by her weeping sister and
the two big-eyed wondering children.
"Will she ever come back?" said Daisy, half in inquiry, half in despairing
exclamation, as we saw the last of the carriage and its guard. "How will
it all end, Douw?"
"Who can foresee?" I answered. "It is war now, at last, war open and
desperate. I can see no peaceful way out of it. These aristocratic
landlords, these Johnsons, Butlers, Phillipses, De Lanceys, and the rest,
will not give up their estates without a hard fight for them. Of that you
may be sure. _They_ will come back, if their wives do not, and all that
they can do, backed by England, to regain their positions, will be done.
They may win, and if they do, it will be our necks that will be put into
the yoke--or the halter. At all events, it has gone too far to be patched
over now. We can only stand up and fight as stoutly as we may, and leave
the rest to fate."
"And it really was necessary to fight--I suppose it could not have been in
"They would have it so. They clung to the faith that they were by right
the masters here, and we the slaves, and so infatuated were they that they
brought in English troops and force to back them up. There was no
alternative but to fight. Would you have had me on the other side--on the
English side, Daisy?"
"Oh, no, Douw," she answered, in a clear voice. "If war there must be,
why, of course, the side of my people is my side."
I was not surprised at this, but I said, "You speak of your people,
Daisy--but surely mere birth does not count for more than one's whole
training afterward, and you have been bred among another class altogether.
Why, I should think nine out of every ten of your friends here in the
Mohawk district must be Tories."
"Not so great a proportion as that," she went on, with a faint smile upon
her lips, but deep gravity in her eyes. "You do not know the value of
these 'friends,' as you call them, as closely as I do. Never have they
forgotten on their side, even if I did on mine, that my parents were
Palatine peasants. And you speak of my being bred among them! In what way
more than you were? Was I not brought up side by side with you? Was there
any difference in our rearing, in our daily life until--until you left us?
Why should I not be a patriot, sir, as well as you?"
She ended with a little laugh, but the voice quivered beneath it. We both
were thinking, I felt, of the dear old days gone by, and of the melancholy
fate which clouded over and darkened those days, and drove us apart.
We still stood by the open door, whence we had watched the carriage
disappear. After some seconds of silence I essayed to bring back the
conversation to Lady Johnson, and talked of her narrow, ill-informed,
purely one-sided way of regarding the troubles, and of how impossible it
was that the class to which she belonged, no matter how amiable and good
they might be, could ever adapt themselves to the enlarging social
conditions of this new country.
While I talked, there burst forth suddenly the racket of fifes and drums
in the road. Some militia companies were marching past on their way to
join Colonel Dayton's force. We stood and watched these go by, and in the
noise that they made we failed to hear Mr. Stewart's tottering footsteps
The din of the drums had called him out of his lethargy, and he came
forward to watch the yeoman-soldiery.
"They march badly--badly," he said, shielding his eyes from the sun with
his hand. "I do not know the uniform. But I have been away so long, and
everything is changed since the King of Prussia began his wars. Yet I am
happier here as I am--far happier with my fields, and my freedom, and my
He had spoken in the tone, half-conversational, half-dreamy, which of late
strangely marked most of his speech. He turned now and looked at us; a
pleasant change came over his wan face, and he smiled upon us with a
curious reflection of the old fond look.
"You are good children," he said; "you shall be married in due time, and
come after me when I am gone. There will be no handsomer, happier twain in
Daisy flushed crimson and looked pained at the old gentleman's childish
babbling, and I made haste to get away.
An Old Acquaintance Turns Up In Manacles.
A truly miserable fourteen months' period of thankless labor, and of
unending yet aimless anxiety, follows here in my story. It was my business
to remain in the Valley, watch its suspected figures, invigorate and
encourage its militia, and combat the secret slander and open cowardice
which there menaced the cause of liberty. Fortunately I had, from time to
time, assurance that my work was of actual advantage to General Schuyler,
and occasionally I had leisure hours to spend at the Cedars. If these
pleasurable things had been denied me, there would have been in the whole
Continental service no more unenviable post than mine.
I have never pretended, least of all to myself, to be much enamoured of
fighting; nor have I ever been regardless of personal comfort, and of the
satisfaction of having warm clothes, sufficient food, and a good bed in
which to sleep. Yet I would gladly have exchanged my state for that of the
most wretched private soldier, barefooted and famished, on the frozen
Delaware or at Morristown. War is a hateful and repellent enough thing;
but it is at least better to be in the thick of it, to smell burning
powder and see and feel the enemy, even if he be at your heels, than to be
posted far away from the theatre of conflict, spying upon an outwardly
peaceful community for signs of treason and disaffection.
I should not like to put down in black and white, here in my old age, all
the harsh and malignant things which I thought of my Mohawk Valley
neighbors, or some of them, during those fourteen months. I am able to see
now that they were not altogether without excuse.
The affairs of the revolted Colonies were, in truth, going very badly. No
sooner had Congress summoned the resolution to decree Continental
independence than the fates seemed to conspire to show that the
declaration was a mistake. Our successes in the field came to a sudden
halt; then disasters followed in their place. Public confidence, which had
been too lightly raised, first wavered, then collapsed. Against the
magnificent army of English and Hessian regulars which Howe mustered in
New York, General Washington could not hold his own, and Congress lost the
nerve to stand at his back. Our militia threw up the service,
disheartened. Our commissariat faded out of existence. The patriot force
became the mere skeleton of an army, ragged, ill-fed, discouraged, and
almost hopeless. In battle after battle the British won--by overwhelming
numbers or superior fortune, it mattered not which; the result was equally
There had been, indeed, a notable week at Christmas-time, when the swift
strong blows struck at Trenton and Princeton lifted for a moment the cloud
which hung over us. But it settled down again, black and threatening,
before spring came.
The Colonies quarrelled with one another; their generals plotted and
intrigued, or sullenly held aloof. Cool men, measuring on the one side
this lax and inharmonious alliance of jealous States, without money,
without public-spirited populations, and, above all, without confidence in
their own success, and on the other the imposing power of rich and
resolute England, with its splendid armies and fleets in the St. Lawrence
and in New York Harbor, and with its limitless supply of hired German
auxiliaries--cool men, I say, weighing dispassionately these two opposing
forces, came pretty generally to believe that in the end General
Washington would find himself laid by the heels in the Tower at London.
I cannot honestly say now whether I ever shared this despondent view or
not. But I do know that I chafed bitterly under the orders which kept me
in the Valley, and not only prevented my seeing what fighting there was,
but put me to no better task than watching in a ten-acre field for
rattlesnakes. I can in no apter way describe my employment from May of
1776 to July of the following year. There was unending work, but no
visible fruit, either for the cause or for myself. The menace of impending
danger hung over us constantly--and nothing came of it, month after month.
I grew truly sick of it all. Besides, my wounds did not heal well, and my
bad health from time to time induced both melancholy and an
The situation in the Valley was extremely simple. There was a small
outspoken Tory party, who made no secret of their sympathies, and kept up
communications with the refugees in Canada. These talked openly of the
time soon to arrive when the King's troops would purge the Valley of
disloyalty, and loyalists should come by more than their own. There was a
somewhat larger Whig party, which by word and deed supported Congress.
Between these two, or rather, because of their large number, surrounding
them, was the great neutral party, who were chiefly concerned to so trim
their sails that they should ship no water whichever way the wind blew.
Up to the time of the Declaration of Independence these peaceful people
had leaned rather toward the Whigs. But when General Washington evacuated
Long Island, and the Continental prospects seemed to dwindle, it was
wonderful to note how these same trimmers began again, first furtively,
then with less concealment, to drink the King's health.
Roughly speaking, the majority of the avowed Tories were in the lower
district of Tryon County, that called the Mohawk district, embracing all
east of Anthony's Nose, including Johnstown, Tribes Hill, and Caughnawaga.
They had, indeed, out-numbered the Whigs by five to one before the flights
to Canada began; and even now enough remained to give a strong British
color to the feeling of the district. In the western districts of the
county, where the population was more purely Dutch and Palatine, the Whig
sentiment was very much stronger. But here, too, there were Tories,
confessed and defiant; and everywhere, as time passed, the dry-rot of
doubt spread among those who were of neither party. It came at last that
nearly every week brought news of some young man's disappearance from
home--which meant another recruit for the hostile Canadian force; and
scarcely a day went by without the gloomy tidings that this man or the
other, heretofore lukewarm, now spoke in favor of submission to the King.
It was my function to watch this shifting public opinion, to sway it where
I could, but to watch it always. No more painful task could have been
conceived. I lived in an atmosphere of treachery and suspicion. Wherever I
turned I saw humanity at its worst. Men doubted their brothers, their
sons, even their wives. The very ground underneath us was honeycombed with
intrigues and conspiracies. Intelligence from Canada, with its burden of
promises to speedily glut the passions of war, circulated stealthily all
about us. How it came, how it was passed from hearth to hearth, defied our
penetration. We could only feel that it was in the air around us, and
strive to locate it--mainly in vain--and shudder at its sinister omens.
For all felt a blow to be impending, and only marvelled at its being so
long withheld. It was two years now since Colonel Guy Johnson, with the
Butlers and Philip Cross, had gone westward to raise the Indians. It was
more than a year since Sir John and his retainers had joined them. Some of
these had been to England in the interim, and we vaguely heard of others
flitting, now in Quebec, now at Niagara or Detroit; yet none doubted that
the dearest purpose of all of them was to return with troops and savages
to reconquer the Valley. This was the sword which hung daily, nightly,
over our heads.
And as the waiting time lengthened out it grew terrible to weak and
selfish minds. More and more men sought to learn how they might soften and
turn its wrath aside, not how they might meet and repel its stroke.
Congress would not believe in our danger--perhaps could not have helped us
if it would. And then our own friends at this lost heart. The flights to
Canada multiplied; our volunteer militiamen fell away from the drills and
patrols. Stories and rumors grew thicker of British preparations, of
Indian approaches, of invasion's red track being cleared up to the very
gates of the Valley. And no man saw how the ruin was to be averted.
It was in the second week of July, at almost the darkest hour in that
gloomy first part of 1777, that a singular link in the chain of my story
Affairs were at their worst, abroad and at home. General Washington's call
for more troops had fallen on deaf ears, and it seemed impossible that his
poor force could withstand the grand army and fleet mustering at New York.
The news of St. Clair's wretched evacuation of Ticonderoga had come in,
and we scarcely dared look one another in the face when it was told.
Apparently matters were nearing a climax, so far at least as we in New
York State were involved. For Burgoyne was moving down through the
Champlain country upon Albany, with none to stay his progress, and an
auxiliary force was somewhere upon the great northern water frontier of
our State, intending to sweep through the Mohawk Valley to join him. Once
this junction was formed, the Hudson lay open--and after that? We dared
I cannot hope to make young people realize what all this meant to us. To
comprehend this, one must have had not only a neck menaced by the halter,
but mother, sisters, dear ones, threatened by the tomahawk and knife.
Thinking back upon it now, I marvel that men did not go mad under this
horrible stress of apprehension. Apparently there was no hope. The old New
England spite and prejudice against General Schuyler had stirred up now a
fierce chorus of calumny and attack. He was blamed for St. Clair's
pusillanimous retreat, for Congressional languor, for the failure of the
militia to come forward--for everything, in fact. His hands were tied by
suspicion, by treason, by popular lethargy, by lack of money, men, and
means. Against these odds he strove like a giant, but I think not even he,
with all his great, calm confidence, saw clearly through the black cloud
I had gone to bed late one hot July night, and had hardly fallen asleep,
for gloomy musing upon these things, when I was awakened by a loud
pounding on the door beneath. I was at my mother's house, fortunately, and
the messenger had thus found me out promptly.
Tulp had also been aroused, and saddled my horse while I dressed, in
response to the summons. I was wanted at Johnstown by Sheriff Frey, on
some matter which would not wait for the morrow. This much I gathered
from the messenger, as we rode together in the starlight, but he could
tell me little more, save that an emissary from the Tories in Canada had
been captured near the Sacondaga, and it was needful that I should see
him. I wondered somewhat at this as a reason for routing me out of my
sleep, but cantered silently along, too drowsy to be querulous.
Daylight broke before we crossed the river, and the sunrise gun sounded as
we rode up into the court-house square at Johnstown. Soldiers were already
to be seen moving about outside the block-houses at the corners of the
palisade which, since Sir John's flight, had been built around the jail.
Our coming seemed to be expected, for one of the soldiers told us to wait
while he went inside, and after a few minutes John Frey came out, rubbing
his eyes. As I dismounted, he briefly explained matters to me.
It seemed that a Tory spy had made his way in from the woods, had
delivered letters both at Cairncross and at the Cedars, and had then
started to return, but by the vigilance of one of the Vrooman boys had
been headed off and taken.
"He is as close as the bark on a beech-tree," concluded the sheriff. "We
could get nothing out of him. Even when I told him he would be hanged this
morning after breakfast, he did not change color. He only said that if
this was the case he would like first to see you; it seems he knows you,
and has some information for you--probably about Philip Cross's wife.
Perhaps he will tell _you_ what was in the letter he brought to her."
It occurred to me on the instant that this was the real reason for my
being summoned. These were days of universal suspicion, and the worthy
sheriff had his doubts even of Daisy.
"All right! Let me see the man," I said, and we entered the jail.
When the soldier in charge had opened the cell-door, the object of our
interest was discovered to be asleep. Frey shook him vigorously by the
shoulder. He sat bolt upright on the instant, squinting his eyes to
accustom them to the light, but evincing no special concern at
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