James Fenimore Cooper
Part 9 out of 9
shook his head, and seemed reluctant to comply.
"Anneke would hardly pardon me for consenting to that," he answered. "You
must remember, now, Corny, that a very tender and sensitive heart is bound
up in you, and you must no longer act like a thoughtless, single man. It
would be far better to send this Onondago, if he will agree to go. He
understands the red men, and will be able to interpret the omens with more
certainty, than any of us, What say you, Susquesus; will you be a messenger
to the Hurons?"
"Sartain;--why no go, if he want? Good to be messenger, sometime. Where
wampum--what tell him?"
Thus encouraged, we deliberated together, and soon had Susquesus in
readiness to depart. As for the Indian, he laid aside all his arms, washed
the war-paint from his face, put a calico shirt over his shoulders, and
assumed the guise of peace. We gave him a small, white flag to carry,
feeling certain that the Huron chiefs must understand its meaning; and
thinking it might be better, in bearing a message from pale-faces, that
he who carried it should have a pale-face symbol of his errand. Susquesus
found some wampum, too; having as much faith in that, probably, as in
anything else. He then set forth, being charged to offer liberal ransom to
the Hurons, for the living, uninjured bodies of Guert Ten Eyck and Jaap
We entertained no doubt that the enemy would be found in the ravine, for
that was the point, in every respect, most favourable to the operations of
the siege; being near the house, having a perfect cover, possessing water,
wood, and other conveniences. From that point the Nest could be watched,
and any favourable chance improved. Thither, then, Susquesus was told to
proceed; though it was not thought advisable to fetter one so shrewd, with
too many instructions. Several of us accompanied the Onondago to the gate,
and saw him moving across the fields, towards the wood, in his usual loping
trot. A bird could scarcely have flown more directly to its object.
The half-hour that succeeded the disappearance of Susquesus, in the mouth
of the ravine, was one of intensely painful suspense. We all remained
without the gate, waiting the result, including Dirck, Mr. Worden, Jason,
and half-a-dozen of the settlers. At length the Onondago reappeared; and,
to our great joy, a group followed him, in which were both the prisoners.
The last were bound, but able to walk. This party might have contained a
dozen of the enemy, all of whom were armed. It moved slowly out of the
ravine, and ascended to the fields that were on a level with the house,
halting when about four hundred yards from us. Seeing this movement, we
counted out exactly the same number of men, and went forward, halting at
a distance of two hundred yards from the Indians. Here we waited for our
messenger, who continued on, after the Hurons had come to a stand. Thus far
everything looked propitious.
"Do you bring us good news?" Herman Mordaunt eagerly asked. "Are our
"Got scalp--no hurt--take prisoner--jump on 'em, ten, two, six--cotch 'em,
then. Open eyes; you see."
"And the Hurons--do they seem inclined to accept the ransom? Rum, rifle,
blanket and powder; you offered all, I hope, Susquesus?"
"Sartain. No forget; that bad. Say take all that; some more, too."
"And they have come to treat with us? What are we to do, now, Susquesus?"
"Put down rifle--go near and talk. You go--priest go--young chief go--that
t'ree. Then t'ree warrior lay down rifle, come talk, too. Prisoner wait.
This was sufficiently intelligible, and believing that anything like
hesitation might make the condition of Guert desperate, we prepared to
comply. I could see that the Rev. Mr. Worden had no great relish for
the business, but was ashamed to hang back when he saw Herman Mordaunt
cheerfully advancing to the interview. We three were met by as many Hurons,
among whom was Jaap's friend 'Muss,' who was evidently the leading person
of the party. Guert and Jaap were held, bound, about a hundred yards in the
rear, but near enough to be spoken to, by raising the voice. Guert was
in his shirt and breeches, with his head uncovered, his fine curly hair
blowing about in the wind, and I thought I saw some signs of blood on his
linen. This might be his own, or it might have come from an enemy. I called
to him, therefore, inquiring how he did, and whether he were hurt.
"Nothing to speak of, Corny, I thank you," was the cheerful answer; "these
red gentlemen have had me tied to a tree, and have been seeing how near
they could hurl their tomahawks without hitting. This is one of their
customary amusements, and I have got a scratch or two in the sport. I hope
the ladies are in good spirits, and do not let the business of last night
"There is blessed news for you, Guert--Susquesus, ask these chiefs if I may
go near my friend to give him one word of consolation--on my honour, no
attempt to release him will be made by me, until I return here."
I spoke earnestly, and the Onondago interpreted what I had said into the
language of the Hurons. I had made this somewhat hardy request, under an
impulse that I found ungovernable, and was surprised, as well as pleased,
to find it granted. These savages confided in my word, and trusted to my
honour with a stately delicacy that might have done credit to the manners
of civilized kings, giving themselves no apparent concern about my
movements, although they occurred in their own rear. It was too late to
retract, and, leaving Herman Mordaunt endeavouring to drive a bargain
with Muss and his two companions, I proceeded, unconcerned myself, boldly
towards the armed men who held Guert and Jaap prisoners. I thought my
approach _did_ cause a slight movement among these savages, and there was a
question and answer passed between them and their leaders. The latter said
but a word or two, but these were uttered authoritatively, and with a
commanding toss of a hand. Brief as they were, they answered the purpose,
and I was neither molested nor spoken to, during the short interview I had
with my friend.
"God bless you, Corny, for this!" Guert cried with feeling, as I warmly
shook his hand. "It requires a warm heart, and a bold one too, to lead a
man into this 'lion's den.' Stay but a moment, lest some evil come of it,
I beg of you. This squeeze of the hand is worth an estate to a man in my
situation; but remember Anneke. Ah! Corny, my dear friend, I could be happy
even here, did I know that Mary Wallace grieved for me!"
"Then be happy, Guert. My sole object in venturing here, was to tell you to
hope everything in that quarter. There will be no longer any coyness, any
hesitation, any misgivings, when you shall be once restored to us."
"Mr. Littlepage, you would not trifle with the feelings of a miserable
captive, hanging between torture and death, is my present case! I can
hardly credit my senses; yet, you would not mock me!"
"Believe all I say--nay, all you _wish_, Guert. It is seldom that woman
loves as _she_ loves, and this I swear to you. I go now, only to aid Herman
Mordaunt in bringing you where your own ears shall hear such proofs of what
I say, as have been uttered in mine."
Guert made no answer, but I could see he was profoundly affected. I
squeezed his hand, and we parted, in the full hope, on my side at least,
that the separation would be short. I have reason to think Guert shed
tears; for, on looking back, I perceived his face turned away from those
who were nearest to him. I had but a single glance at Jaap. My fellow stood
a little in the rear, as became his colour; but he watched my countenance
with the vigilance of a cat. I thought it best not to speak to him, though
I gave him a secret sign of encouragement.
"These chiefs are not very amicably disposed, Corny," said Herman Mordaunt,
the instant I rejoined him. "They have given me to understand that Jaap
will be liberated on no terms whatever. They must have his scalp, as
Susquesus tells me, on account of some severity he himself has shown to one
of these chiefs. To use their own language, they want it for a plaster to
this warrior's back. His fate, it would seem, is sealed, and he has only
been brought out yonder, to raise hopes in him that are to be disappointed.
The wretches do not scruple to avow this, in their own sententious manner.
As for Guert, they say he slew two of their warriors, and that their wives
will miss their husbands, and will not be easily quieted unless they see
his scalp, too. They offer to release him, however, on either of two sets
of terms. They will give up Guert for two of what they call chiefs, or for
four common men. If we do not like those conditions, they will exchange
him, on condition we give two common men for him, and abandon the Nest to
them, by marching out, with all my people, before the sun is up above our
"Conditions that you cannot accept, under any circumstances, I fear, sir?"
"Certainly not. The delivery of any two is out of the question--would be
so, even to save my own life. As for the Nest and its contents, I would
very willingly abandon all, a few papers excepted, had I the smallest faith
in the chiefs' being able to restrain their followers; but the dreadful
massacre of William-Henry is still too recent, to confide in anything of
the sort. My answer is given already, and we are about to part. Possibly,
when they see us determined, they may lower their demands a little."
A grave parting wave of the hand was given by Muss, who had conducted
himself with great dignity in the interview, and the three Hurons walked
away in a body.
"Best go," said Susquesus, significantly. "Maybe want rifle. Hurons in
On this hint, we returned to our friends, and resumed our arms. What
succeeded, I learned in part by the relations of others, while a part was
witnessed by my own eyes. It seems that Jaap, from the first, understood
the desperate nature of his own position. The remembrance of his mis-deeds
in relation to Muss, whose prisoner he had more especially become, most
probably increased his apprehensions, and his thoughts were constantly bent
on obtaining his liberty, by means entirely independent of negotiation.
From the instant he was brought out of the ravine, he kept all his eyes
about him, watching for the smallest chance of effecting his purpose. It
happened that one of the savages so placed himself before the negro, who
was kept behind all near him, as to enable Jaap to draw the Huron's knife
from its sheath without being detected: He did this while I was actually
with the party, and all eyes were on me. Guert and himself were bound, by
having their arms fastened above the elbows, behind the back; and when
Guert turned aside to shed tears, as mentioned, Jaap succeeded in cutting
his fastenings. This could be done, only while the savages were following
my retreating form with their eyes. At the same time Jaap gave the knife
to Guert, who did him a similar service. As the Indians did not take the
alarm, the prisoners paused a moment, holding their arms as if still bound,
to look around them. The Indian nearest Guert had two rifles, his own and
that of Muss, both leaning negligently against his shoulder, with their
breeches on the ground. To these weapons Guert pointed; and, when the three
chiefs were on the point of rejoining their friends, who were attentive to
their movements in order to ascertain the result, Guert seized this savage
by his arm, which he twisted until the Indian yelled with pain, then caught
one rifle, while Jaap laid hold of the other. Each fired and brought down
his man; then they made an onset with the butts of their pieces on the rest
of the party. This bold assault, though so desperate in appearance, was
the wisest thing they could do; as immediate flight would have left their
enemies an opportunity of sending the swift runners of their pieces in
The first intimation we had of any movement of this sort was in the reports
of the rifles. Then, I not only saw, but I heard the tremendous blow Jaap
gave to the head of Muss; a blow that demolished both the victim and the
instrument of his destruction. Though the breech of the rifle was broken,
the heavy barrel still remained, and the negro flourished it with a force
that swept all before him. It is scarcely necessary to say Guert was not
idle in such a fray. He fought for Mary Wallace, as well as for himself,
and he overturned two more of the Indians, as it might be, in the twinkling
of an eye. Here Dirck did good service to our friends. His rifle was in his
hands, and, levelling it with coolness, he shot down a powerful savage who
was on the point of seizing Guert from behind. This was the commencement of
a general war, volleys now coming from both parties; from ourselves, and
from the enemy, who were in the cover of the woods. Intimidated by the fury
of the personal assault under which they were suffering, the remaining
Indians near Guert and the negro leaped away towards their friends,
yelling; leaving their late prisoners free, but more exposed to fire than
they could have been when encircled even by enemies.
Everything passed with fearful rapidity. Guert seized the rifle of a fallen
Indian, and Jaap obtained another, when they fell back towards us, like two
lions at bay, with rifle-bullets whizzing around them at every step. Of
course, we fired, and we also advanced to meet them; an imprudent step,
since the main body of the Hurons were covered, rendering the contest
unequal. But, there was no resisting the sympathetic impulses of such a
moment, or the exultation we all felt at the exploits of Guert and Jaap,
enacted, as they were, before our eyes. As we drew together, the former
shouted and cried--
"Hurrah! Corny, my noble fellow--let us charge the woot--there'll not be a
reat-skin left in it, in five minutes. Forwart, my friends--forwart, all!"
It certainly was an exciting moment. We all shouted in our turns, and
all cried 'forward,' in common. Even Mr. Worden joined in the shout, and
pressed forward. Jason, too, fought bravely; and we went at the wood like
so many bull-dogs. I fancy the pedagogue thought the fee-simple of his
mills depended on the result. On we went, in open order, reserving our fire
for the last moment, but receiving dropping shots, that did us no harm,
until we dashed into the thicket.
The Hurons were discomfited, and they fled. Though a panic is not usual
among those wild warriors, they seldom rally on the field. If once driven,
against their will, a close pursuit will usually disperse them for a time;
and such was the case now. By the time I got fairly into the ravine, I
could see or hear of no enemy. My friends were on my right and left,
shouting and pressing on; but there was no foe visible. Guert and Jaap were
in advance, for we could not overtake them; and they had fired, for they
got the last glimpses of the enemy. But one more shot did come from the
Hurons in that inroad. It was fired from some one of the retreating party,
who must have been lingering in its rear. The report sounded far up the
ravine, and it came like a farewell and final gun. Distant as it was,
however, it proved the most fatal shot to us that was fired in all that
affair. I caught a glimpse of Guert, through the trees, and saw him fall.
In an instant, I was at his side.
What a change is that from the triumph of victory to the sudden approach of
death! I saw by the expression of Guert's countenance, as I raised him in
my arms, that the blow was fatal. The ball, indeed, had passed directly
through his body, missing the bones, but injuring the vitals. There is no
mistaking the expression of a death-wound on the human countenance, when
the effect is direct and not remote. Nature appears to admonish the victim
of his fate. So it was with Guert.
"This shot has done for me, Corny," he said, "and it seems to be the very
last they intended to fire. I almost hope there can be no truth in what you
told me of Mary Wallace!"
That was neither the time nor the place to speak on such a subject, and
I made no answer. From the instant the fall of Guert became known, the
pursuit ceased, and our whole party collected around the wounded man.
The Indian alone seemed to retain any consciousness of the importance
of knowing what the enemy was doing, for his philosophy was not easily
disturbed by the sudden appearance of death among us. Still he liked
Guert, as did every one who could get beyond the weaknesses of his outer
character, and fairly at the noble traits of his manly nature. Susquesus
looked at the sufferer a moment, gravely and not without concern; then he
turned to Herman Mordaunt, and said--
"This bad--save scalp, that good, though. Carry him in house. Susquesus
follow trail and see what Injin mean."
As this was well, he was told to watch the enemy, while we bore our friend
towards the Nest. Dirck consented to precede us, and let the melancholy
truth be known, while I continued with Guert, who held my hand the whole
distance. We were a most melancholy procession, for victors. Not a serious
hurt had any of our party received, in this last affair, the wound of Guert
Ten Eyck excepted; yet, I question if more real sorrow would have been felt
over two or three other deaths. We had become accustomed to our situation;
it is wonderful how soon the soldier does; rendering death familiar, and
disarming him of half his terrors; but calamities can, and do occur, to
bring back an army to a sense of its true nature and its dependence on
Providence. Such had been the effect of the loss of Lord Howe, on the
troops before Ticonderoga, and such was the effect of the fall of Guert Ten
Eyck, on the small band that was collected to defend the possessions and
firesides of Ravensnest.
We entered the gate of the house, and found most of its tenants already
in the court, collected like a congregation in a church that awaits the
entrance of the dead. Herman Mordaunt had sent an order to have his own
room prepared for the sufferer, and thither we carried Guert. He was placed
on the bed; then the crowd silently withdrew. I observed that Guert's eyes
turned anxiously and inquiringly around, and I told him, in a low voice, I
would go for the ladies myself. A smile, and a pressure of the hand, showed
how well I had interpreted his thoughts.
Somewhat to my surprise, I found Mary Wallace, pale it is true, but
comparatively calm and mistress of herself. That instinct of propriety
which seems to form a part of the nature of a well-educated woman, had
taught her the necessity of self-command, that no outbreak of her feelings
should affect the sufferer. As for Anneke, she was like herself, gentle,
mourning, and full of sympathy for her friend.
As soon as apprised of the object of my visit, the two girls expressed
their readiness to go to Guert. As they knew the way, I did not attend
them, purposely proceeding an another direction, in order not to be a
witness of the interview. Anneke has since told me, however, that Mary's
self-command did not altogether desert her, while Guert's cheerful
gratitude probably so far deceived her as to create a short-lived hope that
the wound was not mortal. For myself, I passed an hour in attending to the
state of things in and around the house, in order to make certain that no
negligence occurred still to endanger our security. At the end of that
time, I returned to Guert, meeting Herman Mordaunt near the door of his
"The little hope we had is vanished," said the last, in a sorrowful tone.
"Poor Ten Eyck has, beyond a question, received his death-wound, and
has but a few hours to live. Were my people safe, I would rather that
everything at Ravensnest, house and estate, were destroyed, than had this
Prepared by this announcement, I was not as much surprised as I might
otherwise have been, at the great change that had occurred in my friend,
since the time I quitted his room. It was evident he anticipated the
result. Nevertheless he was calm; nay, apparently happy. Nor was he so much
enfeebled as to prevent his speaking quite distinctly, and with sufficient
ease. When the machine of life is stopped by the sudden disruption of
a vital ligament, the approaches of death, though more rapid than with
disease, are seldom so apparent. The first evidences of a fatal termination
are discovered rather through the nature of the violence, than by means of
I have said that Guert seemed even happy, though death was so near. Anneke
told me, subsequently, that Mary Wallace had owned her love, in answer to
an earnest appeal on his part, and, from that moment, he had expressed
himself as one who was about to die contented. Poor Guert! It was little he
thought of the dread future, or of the church on earth, except as the last
was entitled to, and did receive on all occasions, his outward respect.
It seemed that Mary Wallace, habitually so reserved and silent among her
friends, had been accustomed to converse freely with Guert, and that she
had made a serious effort, during her residence in Albany, to enlighten his
mind, or rather to arouse his feelings on this all-important subject, and
that Guert, sensible of the pleasure of receiving instruction from such
a source, always listened with attention. When I entered the room, some
allusion had just been made to this theme.
"But for you, Mary, I should be little better than a heathen," said Guert,
holding the hand of his beloved, and scarce averting his eyes from their
idol a single instant. "If God has mercy on me, it will be on your
"Oh! no--no--no--Guert, say not, think not _thus!_" exclaimed Mary Wallace,
shocked at this excess of his attachment even for herself at such a moment.
"We all receive our pardons through the death and mediation of his Blessed
Son. Nothing else can save you, or any of us, my dear, dear Guert; and I
implore you not to think otherwise."
Guert looked a little bewildered; still he looked pleased. The first
expression was probably produced by his not exactly comprehending the
nature of that mysterious expiation, which baffles the unaided powers of
man, and which, indeed, is to be felt, rather than understood. The look of
pleasure had its origin in the 'dear, dear Guert,' and, more than that, in
the consciousness of possessing the affections of the woman he had so long
loved, almost against hope. Guert Ten Eyck was a man of bold and reckless
character, in all that pertained to risks, frolic, and youthful adventure;
but the meekest Christian could scarcely possess a more lowly opinion of
his own frailties and sins, than this dashing young fellow possessed of his
own claims to be valued by such a being as Mary Wallace. I often wondered
how he ever presumed to love her, but suppose the apparent vanity must
be ascribed to the resistless power of a passion that is known to be the
strongest of our nature. It was also a sort of moral anomaly that two
so opposed to each other in character; the one verging on extreme
recklessness, the other pushing prudence almost to prudery; the one so gay
as to seem to live for frolic, the other quiet and reserved should conceive
this strong predilection for each other; but so it was. I have heard
persons say, however, that these varieties in temperament awaken interest,
and that they who have commenced with such dissimilarities, but have
assimilated by communion, attachment, and habits, after all, make the
Mary Wallace lost all her reserve, in the gush of tenderness and sympathy,
that now swept all before it. Throughout the whole of that morning, she
hung about Guert, as the mother watches the ailing infant. If his thirst
was to be assuaged, her hand held the cup; if his pillow was to be
replaced, her care suggested the alteration; if his brow was to be wiped,
she performed that office for him, suffering no other to come between her
and the object of her solicitude.
There were moments when the manner in which Mary Wallace hung over Guert,
was infinitely touching. Anneke and I knew that her very soul yearned to
lead his thoughts to dwell on the subject of the great change that was so
near. Nevertheless, the tenderness of the woman was so much stronger
than even the anxiety of the Christian, that we perceived she feared
the influence on his wound. At length, happily for an anxiety that was
beginning to be too painful for endurance, Guert spoke on the subject,
himself. Whether his mind adverted naturally to such a topic, or he
perceived the solicitude of his gentle nurse, I could not say.
"I cannot stay with you long, Mary," he said, "and I should like to have
Mr. Worden's prayers, united to yours, offered up in my behalf. Corny will
seek the Dominie, for an old friend?"
I vanished from the room, and was absent ten minutes. At the end of that
time, Mr. Worden was ready in his surplice, and we went to the sick room.
Certainly, our old pastor had not the way of manifesting the influence of
religion, that is usual to the colonies, especially to those of the more
northern and eastern portion of the country; yet, there was a heartiness
in his manner of praying, at times, that almost persuaded me he was a good
man. I will own, however, that Mr. Worden was one of those clergymen who
could pray much more sincerely for certain persons, than for others. He
was partial to poor Guert; and I really thought this was manifest in his
accents, on this melancholy occasion.
The dying man was relieved by this attention to the rites of the church.
Guert was not a metaphysician; and, at no period of his life, I believe,
did he ever enter very closely into the consideration of those fearful
questions which were connected with his existence, origin, destination,
and position, in the long scale of animated beings. He had those general
notions on these subjects, that all civilized men imbibe by education and
communion with their fellows, but nothing more. He understood it was a duty
to pray; and I make no doubt he fancied there were times and seasons in
which this duty was more imperative than at others; and times and seasons
when it might be dispensed with.
How tenderly and how anxiously did Mary Wallace watch over her patient,
during the whole of that sad day! She seemed to know neither weariness nor
fatigue. Towards evening, it was just as the sun was tinging the summits of
the trees with its parting light, she came towards Anneke and myself,
with a face that was slightly illuminated with something like a glow of
pleasure, and whispered to us, that Guert was better. Within ten minutes
of that moment, I approached the bed, and saw a slight movement of the
patient's hand, as if he desired me to come nearer.
"Corny," said Guert, in a low, languid voice--"it is nearly all over. I
wish I could see Mary Wallace, once more, before I die!"
Mary was not, _could_ not be distant. She fell upon her knees, and clasped
the yielding form of her lover to her heart. Nothing was said on either
side; or, if aught were said, it was whispered, and was of a nature too
sacred to be communicated to others. In that attitude did this young woman,
long so coy and so difficult to decide, remain for near an hour, and in
that quiet, cherishing, womanly embrace, did Guert Ten Eyck breathe his
I left the sufferer as much alone with the woman of his heart, as comported
with prudence and a proper attention on my part; but it was my melancholy
duty to close his eyes. Thus prematurely terminated the earthly career of
as manly a spirit as ever dwelt in human form. That it had imperfections,
my pen has not concealed; but the long years that have since passed away,
have not served to obliterate the regard so noble a temperament could not
fail to awaken.
How slow the day slides on! When we desire
Time's haste, he seems to lose a match with lobsters:
And when we wish him stay, he imps his wings
With feathers plumed with thought.
It is unnecessary to dwell on the grief that we all felt for our loss. That
night was necessarily one of watchfulness but few were inclined to sleep.
The return of light found us unmolested, however; and an hour or two later,
Susquesus came in, and reported that the enemy had retreated towards
Ticonderoga. There was nothing more to fear from that quarter, and the
settlers soon began to return to their dwellings, or to such as remained.
In the course of a week the axe again rang in the forest, and rude
habitations began to reappear, in the places of those that had been
destroyed. As Bulstrode could not well be removed, Herman Mordaunt
determined to pass the remainder of the season at Ravensnest, with the
double view of accommodating his guest, and of encouraging his settlers.
The danger was known to be over for that summer at least, and, ere the
approach of another, it was hoped that the humiliated feelings of Great
Britain would so far be aroused, as to drive the enemy from the province;
as indeed was effectually done.
On consultation, it was decided that the body of Guert ought to be sent,
for interment among his friends, to Albany. Dirck and myself accompanied
it, as the principal attendants, all that remained of our party going with
us. Herman Mordaunt thought it necessary to remain at Ravensnest, and
Anneke would not quit her father. The Rev. Mr. Worden's missionary
zeal had, by this trial, effectually evaporated, and he profited by
so favourable an occasion to withdraw into the safer and more peopled
districts. I well remember as we marched after the horse-litter that
carried the remains of poor Guert, the divine's making the following
"You see how it is, on this frontier, Corny," he said; "it is premature to
think of introducing Christianity. Christianity is essentially a civilized
religion, and can only be of use among civilized beings. It is true, my
young friend, that many of the early apostles were not learned, after the
fashion of this world, but they were all thoroughly civilized. Palestine
was a civilized country, and the Hebrews were a great people; and I
consider the precedent set by our blessed Lord is a command to be followed
in all time, and that his appearance in Judea is tantamount to his saying
to his apostles, 'go and preach me and my gospel to all _civilized_
I ventured to remark that there was something like a direct command to
preach it to _all_ nations, to be found in the bible.
"Ay, that is true enough," answered Mr. Worden, "but it clearly means all
_civilized_ nations. Then, this was before the discovery of America, and
it is fair enough to presume that the command referred solely to _known_
nations. The texts of scripture are not to be strained, but are to be
construed naturally, Corny, and this seems to me to be the natural reading
of that passage. No, I have been rash and imprudent in pushing duty to
exaggeration, and shall confine my labours to their proper sphere,
during the remainder of my days. Civilization is just as much a means of
providence as religion itself; and it is clearly intended that one should
be built on the other. A clergyman goes quite far enough from the centre of
refinement, when he quits home to come into these colonies to preach the
gospel; letting alone these scalping devils the Indians, who, I greatly
fear, were never born to be saved. It may do well enough to have societies
to keep them in view, but a meeting in London is quite near enough ever to
Such, ever after, appeared to be the sentiments of the Rev. Mr. Worden, and
I took no pains to change them. I ought, however, to have alluded to the
parting with Anneke, before I gave the foregoing extract from the parson's
homily. Circumstances prevented my having much private communication with
my betrothed before quitting the Nest; for Anneke's sympathy with Mary
Wallace was too profound to permit her to think much, just then, of aught
but the latter's sorrows. As for Mary herself, the strength and depth of
her attachment and grief were never fully appreciated, until time came to
vindicate them. Her seeming calm was soon restored, for it was only under
a tempest of feeling that Mary Wallace lost her self-command; and the
affliction that was inevitable and irremediable, one of her regulated
temperament and high principles, struggled to endure with Christian
submission. It was only in after-life that I came to know how intense and
absorbing had, in truth, been her passion for the gay, high-spirited,
ill-educated, and impulsive young Albanian.
Anneke wept for a few minutes in my arms, a quarter of an hour before our
melancholy procession quitted the Nest. The dear girl had no undue reserve
with me; though I found her a little reluctant to converse on the subject
of our own loves, so soon after the fearful scenes we had just gone
through. Still, she left me in no doubt on the all-important point of my
carrying away with me her whole and entirely undivided heart. Bulstrode she
never had, never _could_ love. This she assured me, over and over again.
He amused her, and she felt for him some of the affection and interest of
kindred, but not the least of any other interest. Poor Bulstrode! now I was
certain of success, I had very magnanimous sentiments in his behalf, and
could give him credit for various good qualities that had been previously
obscured in my eyes. Herman Mordaunt had requested nothing might be said to
the major of my engagement; though an early opportunity was to be taken by
himself, to let the suitor understand that Anneke declined the honour of
his hand. It was thought the information would best come from him.
"I shall be frank with you, Littlepage, and confess I have been very
anxious for the union of my daughter and Mr. Bulstrode," added Herman
Mordaunt, in the interview we had before I left the Nest; "and I trust to
your own good sense to account for it. I knew Bulstrode before I had any
knowledge of yourself; and there was already a connection between us, that
was just of a nature to render one that was closer, desirable. I shall not
deny that I fancied Anneke fitted to adorn the station and circles to which
Bulstrode would have carried her; and, perhaps, it is a natural parental
weakness to wish to see one's child promoted. We talk of humility and
contentment, Corny, though there is much of the _nolo episcopari_ about it,
after all. But you see that the preference of the child is so much stronger
than that of the parent, that it must prevail. I dare say, after all, you
would much rather be Anneke's choice, than be mine?"
"I can have no difficulty in admitting that, sir," I answered; "and I feel
very sensible of the liberal manner in which you yield your own preferences
to our wishes. Certainly, in the way of rank and fortune, I have little to
offer, Mr. Mordaunt, as an offset to Mr. Bulstrode's claims; but, in love
for your daughter, and in an ardent desire to make her happy, I shall not
yield to him, or any other man, though he were a king."
"In the way of fortune, Littlepage, I have very few regrets. As you are to
live in this country, the joint means of the two families, which, some
day, must centre in you and Anneke, will prove all-sufficient; and, as for
posterity, Ravensnest and Mooseridge will supply ample provisions. As the
colony grows, your descendants will increase, and your means will increase
with both. No, no; I may have been a little disappointed; that much I will
own; but I have not been, at any time, displeased. God bless you, then, my
dear boy; write us from Albany, and come to us at Lilacs bush in September.
Your reception will be that of a son."
It is needless to dwell on the melancholy procession we formed through the
woods. Dirck and myself kept near the body, on foot, until we reached the
highway, when vehicles were provided for the common transportation. On
reaching Albany, we delivered the remains of Guert to his relatives, and
there was a suitable funeral given. The bricked closet behind the chimney,
was opened, as usual, and the six dozen of Madeira, that had been placed in
it twenty-four years before, or the day the poor fellow was christened, was
found to be very excellent. I remember it was said generally, that better
wine was drunk at the funeral of Guert Ten Eyck, than had been tasted at
the obsequies of any individual who was not a Van Rensselaer, a Schuyler,
or a Ten Broeck, within the memory of man. I now speak of funerals in
Albany; for I do suppose the remark would scarcely apply to many other
funerals, lower down the river. As a rule, however, very good wine was
given at all our funerals.
The Rev. Mr. Worden officiated, and was universally regarded with interest,
as a pious minister of the gospel, who had barely escaped the fate of the
person he was now committing 'dust to dust,' while devotedly and ardently
employed in endeavouring to rescue the souls of the very savages who sought
his life, from the fate of the heathen.
I remember there was a very well worded paragraph to this effect in the New
York Gazette, and I had heard it said, but do not remember to have
ever seen it myself, that in one of the reports of the Society for the
Promulgation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the circumstances were alluded
to in a very touching and edifying manner.
Poor Guert! I passed a few minutes at his grave before we went south. It
was all that was left of his fine person, his high spirit, his lion-hearted
courage, his buoyant spirits, and his unextinguishable love of frolic. A
finer physical man I never beheld, or one who better satisfied the eye, in
all respects. That the noble tenement was not more intellectually occupied,
was purely the consequence of a want of education. Notwithstanding, all the
books in the world could not have converted Guert Ten Eyck into a Jason
Newcome, or Jason Newcome into a Guert Ten Eyck. Each owed many of his
peculiarities, doubtless, to the province in which he was bred and born,
and to the training consequent on these accidents; but nature had also
drawn broad distinctions between them. All the wildness of Guert's impulses
could not altogether destroy his feelings tone, and tact as a gentleman;
while all the soaring, extravagant pretensions of Jason never could have
ended in elevating him to that character. Alas! Poor Guert! I sincerely
mourned his loss for years, nor has his memory yet ceased to have a deep
interest with me.
Dirck Follock and I would have been a good deal caressed at Albany, on our
return, both on account of what had happened, and on account of our Dutch
connections, had we been in the mood to profit by the disposition of the
people. But, we were not. The sad events with which we had been connected
were still too recent to indulge in gaieties or company; and, as soon, as
possible after the funeral, we seized the opportunity of embarking on board
a sloop bound to New fork. Our voyage was generally considered a prosperous
one, lasting, indeed, only six days. We took the ground three times, it is
true; but nothing was thought of that, such accidents being of frequent
occurrence. Among the events of this sort, one occurred in the Overslaugh,
and I passed a few hours there very pleasantly, as it was so near the scene
of our adventure on the river. Anneke always occupied much of my thoughts,
but pleasing pictures of her gentle decision, her implicit reliance on
myself, her resignation, her spirit, and her intelligence were now blended,
without any alloy, in my recollections. The dear girl had confessed to me,
that she loved me even on that fearful night, for her tenderness in
my behalf dated much farther back. This was a great addition to the
satisfaction with which I went over every incident and speech, in
recollection, endeavouring to recall the most minute tone or expression, to
see if I could _now_ connect it with any sign of that passion, which I
was authorized in believing did even then exist. Thus aided, equally
by Anneke's gentle, blushing admissions, and my own wishes, I had no
difficulty in recalling pictures that were infinitely agreeable to myself,
though possibly not minutely accurate.
In the Tappaan Sea, Dirck left us; proceeding into Rockland, to join his
family. I continued on in the sloop, reaching port next day. My uncle and
aunt Legge were delighted to see me, and I soon found I should be a lion,
had I leisure to remain in town, in order to enjoy the notoriety my
connection with the northern expedition had created. I found a deep
mortification pervading the capital, in consequence of our defeat, mingled
with a high determination to redeem our tarnished honour.
Satanstoe, with all its endearing ties, however, called me away; and I
left town, on horseback, leaving my effects to follow by the first good
opportunity, the morning of the day succeeding that on which I had arrived.
I shall not attempt to conceal one weakness. As usual, I stopped at
Kingsbridge to dine and bait; and while the notable landlady was preparing
my dinner, I ascended the heights to catch a distant view of Lilacsbush.
There lay the pretty cottage-like dwelling, placed beneath the hill, amid a
wilderness of shrubbery; but its lovely young mistress was far away, and I
found the pleasure with which I gazed at it blended with regrets.
"You have been north, I hear, Mr. Littlepage," my landlady observed, while
I was discussing her lamb, and peas and asparagus; "pray, sir, did you
hear or see anything of our honoured neighbours, Herman Mordaunt and his
"Much of both, Mrs. Light; and that under trying circumstances. Mooseridge,
my father's property in that part of the province, is quite near to
Ravensnest, Herman Mordaunt's estate, and I have passed some time at it.
Have no tidings of the family reached you, lately?"
"None, unless it be the report that Miss Anneke will never return to us."
"Anneke not return! In the name of wonder, how do you hear this?"
"Not as _Miss_ Anneke, but as Lady Anneke, or something of that sort. Isn't
there a General Bulstrom, or some great officer or other, who seeks her
hand, and on whom she smiles, sir?"
"I presume I understand you, now. Well, what do you learn of him?"
"Only that they are to be married next month--some say they _are_ married
already, and that the old gentleman gives Lilacsbush, out and out, and four
thousand pounds currency, down, in order to purchase so high an honour for
his child. I tell the neighbours it is too much, Miss Anneke being worth
any lord in England, on her own, sole, account."
This intelligence did not disturb me, of course, for it was tavern-tidings
and neighbours' news. Neighbours! How much is that sacred word prostituted!
You shall find people opening their ears with avidity to the gossip of a
neighbourhood, when nineteen times in twenty it is less entitled to credit
than the intelligence which is obtained from a distance, provided the
latter come from persons of the same class in life as the individuals in
question, and are known to them. What means had this woman of knowing the
secrets of Herman Mordaunt's family, that were one-half as good as those
possessed by friends in Albany, for instance? This neighbourhood testimony,
as it is called, does a vast deal of mischief in the province, and most
especially in those parts of it where our own people are brought in contact
with their fellow-subjects, from the more eastern colonies. In my eyes,
Jason Newcome's opinions of Herman Mordaunt, and his acts, would be
nearly worthless, shrewd as I admit the man to be; for the two have not a
distinctive opinion, custom, and I had almost said principle, in common.
Just appreciation of motives and acts can only proceed from those who feel
and think alike; and this is morally impossible where there exist broad
distinctions in social classes. It is just for this reason that we attach
so little importance to the ordinary reports, and even to the sworn
evidence, of servants.
Our reception at Satanstoe was just what might have been expected. My dear
mother hugged me to her heart, again and again, and seemed never to be
satisfied with feasting her eyes on me. My father was affected at seeing
me, too; and I thought there was a very decided moisture in his eyes. As
for old Capt. Hugh Roger, three-score-and-ten had exhausted his fluids,
pretty much; but he shook me heartily by the hand, and listened to my
account of the movements before Ty with all a soldier's interest, and with
somewhat of the fire of one who had served himself in more fortunate times.
I had to fight my battles o'er and o'er again, as a matter of course, and
to recount the tale of Ravensnest in all its details. We were at supper,
when I concluded my most laboured narrative, and when I began to hope my
duties, in this respect, were finally terminated. But my dear mother had
heavier matters still, on her mind; and it was necessary that I should give
her a private conference, in her own little room.
"Corny, my beloved child," commenced this anxious and most tender parent,
"you have said nothing _particular_ to me of the Mordaunts. It is now time
to speak of that family."
"Have I not told you, mother, how we met at Albany, and of what occurred on
the river." I had not spoken of that adventure in my letters, because I was
uncertain of the true state of Anneke's feelings, and did not wish to raise
expectations that might never be realized.--"And of our going to Ravensnest
in company, and of all that happened at Ravensnest after our return from
"What is all this to me, child! I wish to hear you speak of Anneke--is it
true that she is going to be married?"
"It is true. I can affirm that much from her own mouth."
My dear mother's countenance fell, and I could hardly pursue my wicked
_equivoque_ any further.
"And she has even had the effrontery to own this to _you,_ Corny?"
"She has, indeed; though truth compels me to add, that she blushed a great
deal while admitting it, and seemed only half-disposed to be so frank: that
is, at first; for, in the end, she rather smiled than blushed."
"Well, this amazes me! It is only a proof that vanity, and worldly rank,
and worldly riches, stand higher in the estimation of Anneke Mordaunt, than
excellence and modest merit."
"What riches and worldly rank have I, mother, to tempt any woman to forget
the qualities you have mentioned?"
"I was not thinking of you, my son, in that sense, at all. Of course, I
mean Mr. Bulstrode."
"What has Mr. Bulstrode to do with my marriage with Anne Mordaunt; or any
one else but her own sweet self, who has consented to become my wife; her
father, who accepts me for a son, my father, who is about to imitate his
example, by taking Anneke to his heart as a daughter, and you, my dearest,
dearest mother, who are the only person likely to raise obstacles, as you
are now doing."
This was a boyish mode of producing a most delightful surprise, I am very
ready to acknowledge; and, when I saw my mother burst into tears, I felt
both regret and shame at having--practised it. But youth is the season of
folly, and happy is the man who can say he has never trifled more seriously
with the feelings of a parent. I was soon pardoned--what offence would
not that devoted mother have pardoned her only child!--when I was made to
relate all that was proper to be told, of what had passed between Anneke
and myself. It is scarcely necessary to say, I was assured of the cheerful
acquiescence in my wishes, of all my own family, from Capt. Hugh Roger,
down to the dear person who was speaking. They had set their minds on my
becoming the husband of this very young lady; and I could not possibly have
made any communication that would be more agreeable, as I was given to
understand from each and all, that very night.
My return to Satanstoe occurred in the last half of the month of July. The
Mordaunts were not to be at Lilacsbush until the middle of September, and I
had near two months to wait for that happy moment. This time was passed as
well as it could be. I endeavoured to interest myself in the old Neck, and
to plan schemes of future happiness there, that were to be realized in
Anneke's society. It was and is a noble farm; rich, beautifully placed,
having water on more than three of its sides, in capital order, and well
stocked with such apples, peaches, apricots, plums, and other fruits,
as the world can scarcely equal. It is true that the provinces a little
further south, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia,
think they can beat us in peaches; but I have never tasted any fruit that
I thought would compare with that of Satanstoe. I love every tree, wall,
knoll, swell, meadow, and hummock about the old place. One thing distresses
me. I love old names, such as my father knew the same places by; and I like
to mispronounce a word, when custom and association render the practice
familiar. I would not call my friend, Dirck Follock, anything else but
Follock, unless it might be in a formal way, or when asking him to drink a
glass of wine with me, for a great deal. So it is with Satanstoe; the name
is homely, I am willing to allow; but it is strong, and conveys an idea.
It relates also to the usages and notions of the country; and names ought
always to be preserved, except in those few instances in which there are
good reasons for altering them. I regret to say, that ever since the
appearance of Jason Newcome among us, there has been a disposition among
the ignorant and vulgar, to call the Neck, Dibbleton; under the pretence I
have already mentioned, that it once belonged to the family of Dibblees;
or, as some think, as a pious diminutive of Devil's-Town. I indignantly
repel this supposition; though, I do believe, that Dibbleton is only a
sneaking mode of pronouncing Devilton; as, I admit, I have heard the old
people laughingly term the Neck. This belongs to the "Gaul darn ye" school,
and it is not to my taste. I say the ignorant and vulgar, for this is just
the class to be squeamish on such subjects. I have been told--though I
cannot say that I have heard it myself--but I am told, there have been
people from the eastward among us of late years, who affect to call
"Hell-Gate," "Hurl-Gate," or "Whirl-Gate," or by some other such
sentimental, whirl-a-gig name; and these are the gentry who would wish to
alter "Satanstoe" into "Dibbleton!" Since the eastern troops have begun to
come among us, indeed, they have commenced a desperate inroad on many of
our old, venerated Dutch names; names that the English, direct from home,
have generally respected. Indeed, change--change in all things, seems to be
the besetting passion of these people. We, of New York, are content to do
as our ancestors have done before us; and this they ridicule, making it
matter of accusation against us, that we follow the notions of our fathers.
I shall never complain that they are deserting so many of _their_ customs;
for, I regard the changes as improvements; but I beg that they may leave us
That there is such a thing as improvement I am willing enough to admit, as
well as that it not only compels, but excuses changes; but, I am yet to
learn it is matter of just reproach that a man follows in the footsteps of
those who have gone before him. The apothegms of David, and the wisdom of
Solomon, are just as much apothegms and wisdom, in our own time, as they
were the day they were written, and for precisely the same reason--their
truth. Where there is so much stability in morals, there must be permanent
principles, and something surely is worthy to be saved from the wreck
of the past. I doubt if all this craving for change has not more of
selfishness in it than either of expediency or of philosophy; and I could
wish, at least, that Satanstoe should never be frittered away into so
sneaking a substitute as Dibbleton.
That was a joyful day, when a servant in Herman Mordaunt's livery rode in
upon our lawn, and handed me a letter from his master, informing me of the
safe arrival of the family, and inviting me to ride over next day in time
to take a late breakfast at Lilacsbush. Anneke had written to me twice
previously to this; two beautifully expressed, feminine, yet spirited,
affectionate letters, in which the tenderness and sensibility of her nature
were barely restrained by the delicacy of her sex and situation. On the
receipt of this welcome invitation, I was guilty of the only piece of
romantic extravagance that I can remember having committed in the course
of my life. Herman Mordaunt's black was well treated, and dismissed with a
letter of acceptance. One hour after he left Satanstoe--I _do_ love that
venerable name, and hope all the Yankees in Christendom will not be able to
alter it to Dibbleton--but, one hour after the negro was off, I followed
him myself, intending to sleep at the well-known inn at Kingsbridge, and
not present myself at the Bush, until the proper hour next morning.
I had got to the house of the talkative landlady two hours before sunset,
put up my horse, secured my lodgings, and was eating a bite myself, when
the good housewife entered the room.
"Your servant, Mr. Littlepage," commenced this loquacious person; "how are
the venerable Captain Hugh Roger, and the Major, your honoured father?
Well, I see by your smile. Well, it is a comfortable thing to have our
friends enjoy good health--my own poor man enjoyed most wretched health
all last winter, and is likely to enjoy very much the same, that which
is coming. I should think you had come to the wedding at Lilacsbush, Mr.
Corny, had you not stopped at my door, instead of going on direct to that
of Herman Mordaunt."
I started, but supposed that the news of what was to happen had leaked out,
and that this good woman, whose ears were always open, had got hold of a
neighbourhood _truth_ for once in her life.
"I am on no such errand, Mrs. Light, but hope to be married, one of these
days, to some one or other."
"I was not thinking of your marriage, sir, but that of Miss Anneke, over
at the 'Bush, to this Lord Bulstrom. It's a great connection for the
Mordaunts, after all, though Herman Mordaunt is of good blood, himself,
they tell me. The knight's man often comes here, to taste new cider, which
he admits is as good as English cider, and I believe it is the only thing
which he has found in the colonies that he thinks is one-half as good; but
Thomas tells me all is settled, and that the wedding must take place right
soon. It has only been put off on account of Miss Wallace, who is in deep
mourning for her own husband, having lost him within the honey-moon, which
is the reason she still bears her own name. They tell me a widow who loses
her husband in the honey-moon is obliged to bear her maiden name; otherwise
Miss Mary would be Mrs. Van Goort, or something like that."
As it was very clear the neighbourhood knew little about the true state of
things in Herman Mordaunt's family, I took my hat and proceeded to execute
the intention with which I had left home. I was sorry to hear that
Bulstrode was at Lilacsbush, but had no apprehension of his ever marrying
Anneke. I took the way to the heights, and soon reached the field where I
had once met the ladies, on horseback. There, seated under a tree, I saw
Bulstrode alone, and apparently in deep contemplation. It was no part of my
plan to be seen, or to have my presence known, and I was retiring, when I
heard my name, discovered that I was recognised, and joined him.
The first glance at Bulstrode showed me that he knew the truth. He
coloured, bit his lips, forced a smile, and came forward to meet me,
limping just enough to add interest to his gait, and offered his hand with
a frank manliness that gave him great merit in my eyes. It was no trifle
to lose Anne Mordaunt, and I am afraid I could not have manifested half so
much magnanimity. But, Bulstrode was a man of the world, and he knew how
to command the exhibition of his feelings, if not to command the feelings
"I told you, once, Corny," he said, offering his hand, "that we must remain
friends, _coute qui coute_--you have been successful, and I have failed.
Herman Mordaunt told me the melancholy fact before we left Albany; and
I can tell you, _his_ regrets were not so very flattering to you.
Nevertheless, he admits you are a capital fellow, and that if it were not
for Alexander, he could wish to be Diogenes. So you have only to provide
yourself with a lantern and a tub, marry Anneke, and set up housekeeping.
As for the honest man, I propose saving you some trouble, by offering
myself in that character, even before you light your wick. Come, take a
seat on this bench, and let us chat."
There was something a little forced in all this, it is true, but it was
manly. I took the seat, and Bulstrode went on.
"It was the river that made your fortune, Corny, and undid me."
I smiled, but said nothing; though I knew better.
"There is a fate in love, as in war. Well, I am as well off as Abercrombie;
we both expected to be victorious, while each is conquered. I am more
fortunate, indeed; for he can never expect to get another army, while I may
get another wife. I wish you would be frank with me, and confess to what
you particularly ascribe your own success."
"It is natural, Mr. Bulstrode, that a young woman should prefer to live in
her own country, to living in a strange land, and among strangers."
"Ay, Corny, that is both patriotic and modest; but it is not the real
reason. No, sir; it was Scrub, and the theatricals, by which I have been
undone. With most provincials, Mr. Littlepage, it is a sufficient apology
for anything, that the metropolis approves. So it is with you colonists, in
general; let England say yes, and you dare not say, no. There is one thing,
that persons who live so far from home, seldom learn; and it is this: There
are two sorts of great worlds; the great vulgar world, which includes all
but the very best in taste, principles, and manners, whether it be in a
capital or a country; and the great _respectable_ world, which, infinitely
less numerous, contains the judicious, the instructed, the intelligent,
and, on some questions, the good. Now, the first form fashion; whereas the
last produce something far better and more enduring than fashion. Fashion
often stands rebuked, in the presence of the last class, small as it
ever is, numerically. Very high rank, very finished tastes, very strong
judgments, and very correct principles, all unite, more or less, to make up
this class. One, or more of these qualities may be wanting, perhaps, but
the union of the whole forms the perfection of the character. We have daily
examples of this at home, as well as elsewhere; though, in our artificial
state of society it requires more decided qualities to resist the influence
of fashion, when there is not positive, social rank to sustain it, perhaps,
than it would in one more natural. That which first struck me, in Anneke,
as is the case with most young men, was her delicacy of appearance, and her
beauty. This I will not deny. In this respect, your American women have
quite taken me by surprise. In England, we are so accustomed to associate a
certain delicacy of person and air, with high rank, that I will confess, I
landed in New York with no expectation of meeting a single female, in
the whole country, that was not comparatively coarse, and what we are
accustomed to consider common, in physique; yet, I must now say that,
apart from mere conventional finish, I find quite as large a proportion of
aristocratical-looking females among you, as if you had a full share of
dutchesses. The last thing I should think of calling an American woman,
would be coarse. She may want manner, in one sense; she may want finish, in
a dozen things; she may, and often does, want utterance, as utterance is
understood among the accomplished; but she is seldom, indeed, coarse or
vulgar, according to our European understanding of the terms."
"And of what is all this _apropos_, Bulstrode?"
"Oh! of your success, and my defeat, of course, Corny," answered the major,
smiling. "What I mean, is this--that Anneke is one of your second class, or
is better than what fashion can make her; and Scrub has been the means of
my undoing. She does not care for fashion, in a play, or a novel, or
a dress even, but looks for the proprieties. Yes, Scrub has proved my
I did not exactly believe the last; but, finding Bulstrode so well disposed
to give his rejection this turn, it was not my part to contradict him. We
talked together half an hour longer, in the most amicable manner, when we
parted; Bulstrode promising not to betray the secret of my presence.
I lingered in sight of the house until evening, when I ventured nearer,
hoping to get a glimpse of Anneke as she passed some window, or appeared,
by the soft light of the moon, under the piazza that skirted the south
front of the building. Lilacsbush deserved its name, being a perfect
wilderness of shrubbery; and, favoured by the last, I had got quite near
the house, when I heard light footsteps on the gravel of an adjacent walk.
At the next instant, soft, low voices met my ears, and I was a sort of
compelled auditor of what followed.
"No, Anne, my fate is sealed for this world," said Mary Wallace, "and
I shall live Guert's widow as faithfully and devotedly, as if the
marriage-vow had been pronounced. This much is due to his memory, on
account of the heartless doubts I permitted to influence me, and which
drove him into those terrible scenes that destroyed him. When a woman
really loves, Anneke, it is vain to struggle against anything but positive
unworthiness, I fear. Poor Guert was not unworthy in any sense; he was
erring and impulsive, but not unworthy. No--no--not unworthy! I ought to
have given him my hand, and he would have been spared to us. As it is, I
can only live his widow in secret, and in love. You have done well, dearest
Anneke, in being so frank with Corny Littlepage, and in avowing that
preference which you have felt almost from the first day of your
Although this was music to my ears, honour would not suffer me to hear
more, and I moved swiftly away, stirring the bushes in a way to apprize the
speaker of the proximity of a stranger. It was necessary to appear, and I
endeavoured so to do, without creating any alarm.
"It must be Mr. Bulstrode," said the gentle voice of Anneke, "who is
probably looking for us--see, there he comes, and we will meet--"
The dear speaker became tongue-tied; for, by this time, I was near enough
to be recognised. At the next instant, I held her in my arms. Mary Wallace
disappeared, how or when, I cannot say. I place a veil over the happy
hour that succeeded, leaving the old to draw on their experience for its
pictures, and the young to live in hope. At the end of that time, by
Anneke's persuasion, I entered the house, and had to brave Herman
Mordaunt's disposition to rally me. I was not only mercifully, but
hospitably treated, however, Anneke's father merely laughing at my little
adventure, saying, that he looked upon it favourably, and as a sign that I
was a youth of spirit.
Early in October we were married, the Rev. Mr. Worden performing the
ceremony. Our home was to be Lilacsbush, which Herman Mordaunt conveyed to
me the same day, leaving it, as it was furnished, entirely in my hands. He
also gave me my wife's mother's fortune, a respectable independence, and
the death of Capt. Hugh Roger, soon after, added considerably to my means.
We made but one family, between town, Lilacsbush, and Satanstoe, Anneke and
my mother, in particular, conceiving a strong affection for each other.
As for Bulstrode, he went home before the marriage, but keeps up a
correspondence with us to this hour. He is still single, and is a declared
old bachelor. His letters, however, are too light-hearted to leave us any
concern on the subject; though these are matters that may fall to the share
of my son Mordaunt, should he ever have the grace to continue this family
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