James Fenimore Cooper
Part 2 out of 9
of the Knoll, and the captain had studiously kept their skirts, as far
as the eye could see from the windows, in virgin forest; placing the
barns, cabins, and other detached buildings, so far south as to be
removed from view. Beulah Willoughby, a gentle, tranquil creature, had
a profound admiration of the beauties of nature; and to her, her
parents had yielded the control of everything that was considered
accessary to the mere charms of the eye; her taste had directed most of
that which had not been effected by the noble luxuriance of nature.
Wild roses were already putting forth their leaves in various fissures
of the rocks, where earth had been placed for their support, and the
margin of the little stream, that actually washed the base of the
cliff, winding off in a charming sweep through the meadows, a rivulet
of less than twenty feet in width, was garnished with willows and
alder. Quitting this sylvan spot, we will return to the little shrub-
adorned area in front of the Hut. This spot the captain called his
_glacis_, while his daughters termed it the lawn. The hour, it will
be remembered, was shortly before sunset, and thither nearly all the
family had repaired to breathe the freshness of the pure air, and bathe
in the genial warmth of a season, which is ever so grateful to those
who have recently escaped from the rigour of a stern winter. Rude, and
sufficiently picturesque garden-seats, were scattered about, and on one
of these were seated the captain and his wife; he, with his hair
sprinkled with grey, a hale, athletic, healthy man of sixty, and she a
fresh-looking, mild-featured, and still handsome matron of forty-eight.
In front, stood a venerable-looking personage, of small stature,
dressed in rusty black, of the cut that denoted the attire of a
clergyman, before it was considered aristocratic to wear the outward
symbols of belonging to the church of God. This was the Rev. Jedidiah
Woods, a native of New England, who had long served as a chaplain in
the same regiment with the captain, and who, being a bachelor, on
retired pay, had dwelt with his old messmate for the last eight years,
in the double capacity of one who exercised the healing art as well for
the soul as for the body. To his other offices, he added that of an
instructor, in various branches of knowledge, to the young people. The
chaplain, for so he was called by everybody in and around the Hut, was,
at the moment of which we are writing, busy in expounding to his
friends certain nice distinctions that existed, or which he fancied to
exist, between a tom-cod and a chub, the former of which fish he very
erroneously conceived he held in his hand at that moment; the Rev. Mr.
Woods being a much better angler than naturalist. To his dissertation
Mrs. Willoughby listened with great good-nature, endeavouring all the
while to feel interested; while her husband kept uttering his "by all
means," "yes," "certainly," "you're quite right, Woods," his gaze, at
the same time, fastened on Joel Strides, and Pliny the elder, who were
unharnessing their teams, on the flats beneath, having just finished a
"land," and deeming it too late to commence another.
Beulah, her pretty face shaded by a large sun-bonnet, was
superintending the labours of Jamie Allen, who, finding nothing just
then to do as a mason, was acting in the capacity of gardener; his hat
was thrown upon the grass, with his white locks bare, and he was
delving about some shrubs with the intention of giving them the benefit
of a fresh dressing of manure. Maud, however, without a hat of any
sort, her long, luxuriant, silken, golden tresses covering her
shoulders, and occasionally veiling her warm, rich cheek, was
exercising with a battledore, keeping Little Smash, now increased in
size to quite fourteen stone, rather actively employed as an assistant,
whenever the exuberance of her own spirits caused her to throw the
plaything beyond her reach. In one of the orchards, near by, two men
were employed trimming the trees. To these the captain next turned all
his attention, just as he had encouraged the chaplain to persevere, by
exclaiming, "out of all question, my dear sir"--though he was
absolutely ignorant that the other had just advanced a downright
scientific heresy. At this critical moment a cry from Little Smash,
that almost equalled a downfall of crockery in its clamour, drew every
eye in her direction.
"What is the matter, Desdemona?" asked the chaplain, a little tartly,
by no means pleased at having his natural history startled by sounds so
inapplicable to the subject. "How often have I told you that the Lord
views with displeasure anything so violent and improper as your
"Can't help him, dominie--nebber can help him, when he take me sudden.
See, masser, dere come Ole Nick!"
There was Nick, sure enough. For the first time, in more than two
years, the Tuscarora was seen approaching the house, on the long,
loping trot that he affected when he wished to seem busy, or honestly
earning his money. He was advancing by the only road that was ever
travelled by the stranger as he approached the Hut; or, he came up the
valley. As the woman spoke, he had just made his appearance over the
rocks, in the direction of the mills. At that distance, quite half a
mile, he would not have been recognised, but for this gait, which was
too familiar to all at the Knoll, however, to be mistaken.
"That is Nick, sure enough!" exclaimed the captain. "The fellow comes
at the pace of a runner; or, as if he were the bearer of some important
"The tricks of Saucy Nick are too well known to deceive any here,"
observed Mrs. Willoughby, who, surrounded by her husband and children,
always felt so happy as to deprecate every appearance of danger.
"These savages will keep that pace for hours at a time," observed the
chaplain; "a circumstance that has induced some naturalists to fancy a
difference in the species, if not in the genus."
"Is he chub or tom-cod, Woods?" asked the captain, throwing back on the
other all he recollected of the previous discourse.
"Nay," observed Mrs. Willoughby, anxiously, "I _do_ think he may
have some intelligence! It is now more than a twelvemonth since we have
"It is more than twice twelvemonth, my dear; I have not seen the
fellow's face since I denied him the keg of rum for his 'discovery' of
another beaver pond. He has tried to sell me a new pond every season
since the purchase of this."
"Do you think he took serious offence, Hugh, at that refusal? If so,
would it not be better to give him what he asks?"
"I have thought little about it, and care less, my dear. Nick and I
know each other pretty well. It is an acquaintance of thirty years'
standing, and one that has endured trials by flood and field, and even
by the horse-whip. No less than three times have I been obliged to make
these salutary applications to Nick's back, with my own hands; though
it is, now, more than ten years since a blow has passed between us."
"Does a savage ever forgive a blow?" asked the chaplain, with a grave
air, and a look of surprise.
"I fancy a _savage_ is quite as apt to forgive it, as a
_civilized_ man, Woods. To you, who have served so long in His
Majesty's army, a blow, in the way of punishment, can be no great
"Certainly not, as respects the soldiers; but I did not know Indians
were ever flogged."
"That is because you never happened to be present at the ceremony--but,
this is Nick, sure enough; and by his trot I begin to think the fellow
has some message, or news."
"How old is the man, captain? Does an Indian never break down?"
"Nick must be fairly fifty, now. I have known him more than half that
period, and he was an experienced, and, to own the truth, a brave and
skilful warrior, when we first met. I rate him fifty, every day of it."
By this time the new-comer was so near, that the conversation ceased,
all standing gazing at him, as he drew near, and Maud gathering up her
hair, with maiden bashfulness, though certainly Nick was no stranger.
As for Little Smash, she waddled off to proclaim the news to the
younger Pliny, Mari, and Great Smash, all of whom were still in the
kitchen of the Hut, flourishing, sleek and glistening.
Soon after, Nick arrived. He came up the Knoll on his loping trot,
never stopping until he was within five or six yards of the Captain,
when he suddenly halted, folded his arms, and stood in a composed
attitude, lest he should betray a womanish desire to tell his story. He
did not even pant but appeared as composed and unmoved, as if he had
walked the half-mile he had been seen to pass over on a trot.
"Sago--Sago," cried the captain, heartily--"you are welcome back, Nick;
I am glad to see you still so active."
"Sago"--answered the guttural voice of the Indian, who quietly nodded
"What will you have to refresh you, after such a journey, Nick--our
trees give us good cider, now."
"Santa Cruz better,"--rejoined the sententious Tuscarora.
"Santa Cruz is certainly _stronger_" answered the captain
laughing, "and, in that sense, you may find it better. You shall have a
glass, as soon as we go to the house. What news do you bring, that you
come in so fast?"
"Glass won't do. Nick bring news worth _jug_. Squaw give _two_
jug for Nick's news. Is it barg'in?"
"I!" cried Mrs. Willoughby--"what concern can I have with your news. My
daughters are both with me, and Heaven be praised! both are well. What
_can_ I care for your news, Nick?"
"Got no pap-poose but gal? T'ink you got boy--officer--great chief--up
here, down yonder--over dere."
"Robert!--Major Willoughby! What can _you_ have to tell me of my
"Tell all about him, for _one_ jug. Jug out yonder; Nick's story
out here. One good as t'other."
"You shall have all you ask, Nick."--These were not temperance days,
when conscience took so firm a stand between the bottle and the
lips.--"You shall have all you ask, Nick, provided you can really give
me good accounts of my noble boy. Speak, then; what have you to say?"
"Say you see him in ten, five minute. Sent Nick before to keep moder
from too much cry."
An exclamation from Maud followed; then the ardent girl was seen
rushing down the lawn, her hat thrown aside; and her bright fair hair
again flowing in ringlets on her shoulders. She flew rather than ran,
in the direction of the mill, where the figure of Robert Willoughby was
seen rushing forward to meet her. Suddenly the girl stopped, threw
herself on a log, and hid her face. In a few minutes she was locked in
her brother's arms. Neither Mrs. Willoughby nor Beulah imitated this
impetuous movement on the part of Maud; but the captain, chaplain, and
even Jamie Allen, hastened down the road to meet and welcome the young
major. Ten minutes later, Bob Willoughby was folded to his mother's
heart; then came Beulah's turn; after which, the news having flown
through the household, the young man had to receive the greetings of
_Mari'_, both the Smashes, the younger Pliny, and all the dogs. A
tumultuous quarter of an hour brought all round, again, to its proper
place, and restored something like order to the Knoll. Still an
excitement prevailed the rest of the day, for the sudden arrival of a
guest always produced a sensation in that retired settlement; much more
likely, then, was the unexpected appearance of the only son and heir to
create one. As everybody bustled and was in motion, the whole family
was in the parlour, and major Willoughby was receiving the grateful
refreshment of a delicious cup of tea, before the sun set. The chaplain
would have retired out of delicacy, but to this the captain would not
listen; he would have everything proceed as if the son were a customary
guest, though it might have been seen by the manner in which his
mother's affectionate eye was fastened on his handsome face, as well as
that in which his sister Beulah, in particular, hung about him, under
the pretence of supplying his wants, that the young man was anything
but an every-day inmate.
"How the lad has grown!" said the captain, tears of pride starting into
his eyes, in spite of a very manful resolution to appear composed and
"I was about to remark that myself, captain," observed the chaplain. "I
do think Mr. Robert has got to his full six feet--every inch as tall as
you are yourself, my good sir."
"That is he, Woods--and taller in one sense. He is a major, already, at
twenty-seven; it is a step I was not able to reach at near twice the
"That is owing, my dear sir," answered the son quickly, and with a
slight tremor in his voice, "to your not having as kind a father as has
fallen to my share--or at least one not as well provided with the means
"Say none at all, Bob, and you can wound no feeling, while you will
tell the truth. _My_ father died a lieutenant-colonel when I was a
school-boy; I owed my ensigncy to my uncle Sir Hugh, the father of the
present Sir Harry Willoughby; after that I owed each step to hard and
long service. Your mother's legacies have helped you along, at a faster
rate, though I do trust there has been some merit to aid in the
"Speaking of Sir Harry Willoughby, sir, reminds me of one part of my
errand to the Hut," said the major, glancing his eye towards his
father, as if to prepare him for some unexpected intelligence.
"What of my cousin?" demanded the captain, calmly. "We have not met in
thirty years, and are the next thing to strangers to each other. Has he
made that silly match of which I heard something when last in York? Has
he disinherited his daughter as he threatened? Use no reserve here; our
friend Woods is one of the family."
"Sir Harry Willoughby is not married, sir, but dead."
"Dead!" repeated the captain, setting down his cup, like one who
received a sudden shock. "I hope not without having been reconciled to
his daughter, and providing for her large family?"
"He died in her arms, and escaped the consequences of his silly
intention to marry his own housekeeper. With one material exception, he
has left Mrs. Bowater his whole fortune."
The captain sat thoughtful, for some time; every one else being silent
and attentive. But the mother's feelings prompted her to inquire as to
the nature of the exception.
"Why, mother, contrary to all my expectations, and I may say wishes, he
has left _me_ twenty-five thousand pounds in the fives. I only
hold the money as my father's trustee."
"You do no such thing, Master Bob, I can tell you!" said the captain,
The son looked at the father, a moment, as if to see whether he was
understood, and then he proceeded--
"I presume you remember, sir," said the major, "that _you_ are the
heir to the title?"
"I have not forgot that, major Willoughby; but what is an empty
baronetcy to a happy husband and father like me, here in the wilds of
America? Were I still in the army, and a colonel, the thing might be of
use; as I am, I would rather have a tolerable road from this place to
the Mohawk than the duchy of Norfolk, without the estate."
"Estate there is none, certainly," returned the major, in a tone of a
little disappointment, "except the twenty-five thousand pounds; unless
you include that which you possess where you are; not insignificant, by
the way, sir."
"It will do well enough for old Hugh Willoughby, late a captain in His
Majesty's 23d Regiment of Foot, but not so well for _Sir_ Hugh.
No, no, Bob. Let the baronetcy sleep awhile; it has been used quite
enough for the last hundred years or more. Out of this circle, there
are probably not ten persons in America, who know that I have any
claims to it."
The major coloured, and he played with the spoon of his empty cup,
stealing a glance or two around, before he answered.
"I beg your pardon, Sir Hugh--my dear father, I mean--but--to own the
truth, never anticipating such a decision on your part, I have spoken
of the thing to a good many friends--I dare say, if the truth were
known, I've called you the baronet, or Sir Hugh, to others, at least a
"Well, should it be so, the thing will be forgotten. A parson can be
unfrocked, Woods, and a baronet can be unbaroneted, I suppose."
"But, Sir William"--so everybody called the well-known Sir William
Johnson, in the colony of New York--"But, Sir William found it useful,
Willoughby, and so, I dare say, will his son and successor, Sir John,"
observed the attentive wife and anxious mother; "and if _you_ are
not now in the army, Bob is. It will be a good thing for our son one
day, and ought not to be lost."
"Ah, I see how it is, Beulah; your mother has no notion to lose the
right of being called Lady Willoughby."
"I am sure my mother, sir, wishes to be called nothing that does not
become _your_ wife; if you remain Mr. Hugh Willoughby, she will
remain Mrs. Hugh Willoughby. But papa, it _might_ be useful to
Beulah was a great favourite with the captain, Maud being only his
darling; he listened always to whatever the former said, therefore,
with indulgence and respect. He often told the chaplain that his
daughter Beulah had the true feelings of her sex, possessing a sort of
instinct for whatever was right and becoming, in woman.
"Well, Bob may have the baronetcy, then," he said, smiling. "Major Sir
Robert Willoughby will not sound amiss in a despatch."
"But, Bob _cannot_ have it, father," exclaimed Maud--"No one _can_
have it but _you_; and it's a pity it should be lost."
"Let him wait, then, until I am out of the way; when he may claim his
"_Can_ that be done?" inquired the mother, to whom nothing was
without interest that affected her children. "How is it, Mr. Woods?--
may a title be dropped, and then picked up again?--how is this,
"I believe it may, my dear mother--it will always exist, so long as
there is an heir, and my father's disrelish for it will not be binding
"Oh! in that case, then, all will come right in the end--though, as
your father does not want it, I wish you could have it, now."
This was said with the most satisfied air in the world, as if the
speaker had no possible interest in the matter herself, and it closed
the conversation, for that time. It was not easy to keep up an interest
in anything that related to the family, where Mrs. Willoughby was
concerned, in which heart did not predominate. A baronetcy was a
considerable dignity in the colony of New York in the year of our Lord,
1775, and it gave its possessor far more importance than it would have
done in England. In the whole colony there was but one, though a good
many were to be found further south; and he was known as "Sir John,"
as, in England, Lord Rockingham, or, in America, at a later day, La
Fayette, was known as "_The_ Marquis." Under such circumstances,
then, it would have been no trifling sacrifice to an ordinary woman to
forego the pleasure of being called "my lady." But the sacrifice cost
our matron no pain, no regrets, no thought even: The same attachments
which made her happy, away from the world, in the wilderness where she
dwelt, supplanted all other feelings, and left her no room, or leisure,
to think of such vanities. When the discourse changed, it was
understood that "Sir Hugh" was not to be "Sir Hugh," and that "Sir
Robert" must bide his time.
"Where did you fall in with the Tuscarora, Bob?" suddenly asked the
captain, as much to bring up another subject, as through curiosity.
"The fellow had been so long away, I began to think we should never see
"He tells me, sir, he has been on a war path, somewhere out among the
western savages. It seems these Indians fight among themselves, from
time to time, and Nick has been trying to keep his hand in. I found him
down at Canajoharie, and took him for a guide, though he had the
honesty to own he was on the point of coming over here, had I not
"I'll answer for it he didn't tell you _that_, until you had paid
him for the job."
"Why, to own the truth, he did not, sir. He pretended something about
owing money in the village, and got his pay in advance. I learned his
intentions only when we were within a few miles of the Hut."
"I'm glad to find, Bob, that you give the place its proper name. How
gloriously Sir Hugh Willoughby, Bart., of The _Hut_, Tryon county,
New York, would sound, Woods!--Did Nick boast of the scalps he has
taken from the Carthaginians?"
"He lays claim to three, I believe, though I have seen none of his
"The Roman hero!--Yet, I have known Nick rather a dangerous warrior. He
was out against us, in some of my earliest service, and our
acquaintance was made by my saving his life from the bayonet of one of
my own grenadiers. I thought the fellow remembered the act for some
years; but, in the end, I believe I flogged all the gratitude out of
him. His motives, now, are concentrated in the little island of Santa
"Here he is, father," said Maud, stretching her light, flexible form
out of a window. "Mike and the Indian are seated at the lower spring,
with a jug between them, and appear to be in a deep conversation."
"Ay, I remember on their first acquaintance, that Mike mistook
_Saucy_ Nick, for _Old_ Nick. The Indian was indignant for a
while, at being mistaken for the Evil Spirit, but the worthies soon
found a bond of union between them, and, before six months, he and the
Irishman became sworn friends. It is said whenever two human beings
love a common principle, that it never fails to make them firm allies."
"And what was the principle, in this case, captain Willoughby?"
inquired the chaplain, with curiosity.
"Santa Cruz. Mike renounced whiskey altogether, after he came to
America, and took to rum. As for Nick, he was never so vulgar as to
find pleasure in the former liquor."
The whole party had gathered to the windows, while the discourse was
proceeding, and looking out, each individual saw Mike and his friend,
in the situation described by Maud. The two _amateurs_--
_connoisseurs_ would not be misapplied, either--had seated themselves
at the brink of a spring of delicious water, and removing the corn-cob
that Pliny the younger had felt it to be classical to affix to the
nozzle of a quart jug, had, some time before, commenced the delightful
recreation of sounding the depth, not of the spring, but of the vessel.
As respects the former, Mike, who was a wag in his way, had taken a
hint from a practice said to be common in Ireland, called "potatoe and
point," which means to eat the potatoe and point at the butter;
declaring that "rum and p'int" was every bit as entertaining as a
"p'int of rum." On this principle, then, with a broad grin on a face
that opened from ear to ear whenever he laughed, the county Leitrim-man
would gravely point his finger at the water, in a sort of mock-homage,
and follow up the movement with such a suck at the nozzle, as, aided by
the efforts of Nick, soon analyzed the upper half of the liquor that
had entered by that very passage. All this time, conversation did not
flag, and, as the parties grew warm, confidence increased, though
reason sensibly diminished. As a part of this discourse will have some
bearing on what is to follow, it may be in place to relate it, here.
"Ye're a jewel, ye be, _ould_ Nick, or _young_ Nick!" cried
Mike, in an ecstasy of friendship, just after he had completed his
first half-pint. "Ye're as wilcome at the Huts, as if ye owned thim,
and I love ye as I did my own brother, before I left the county
Leitrim--paice to his sowl!"
"He dead?" asked Nick, sententiously; for he had lived enough among the
pale-faces to have some notions of then theory about the soul.
"That's more than I know--but, living or dead, the man must have a
sowl, ye understand, Nicholas. A human crathure widout a sowl, is what
I call a heretick; and none of the O'Hearns ever came to _that_."
Nick was tolerably drunk, but by no means so far gone, that he had not
manners enough to make a grave, and somewhat dignified gesture; which
was as much as to say he was familiar with the subject.
"All go ole fashion here?" he asked, avoiding every appearance of
"That does it--that it does, Nicholas. All goes ould enough. The
captain begins to get ould; and the missus is oulder than she used to
be; and Joel's wife looks a hundred, though she isn't t'irty; and Joel,
himself, the spalpeen--he looks--" a gulp at the jug stopped the
"Dirty, too?" added the sententious Tuscarora, who did not comprehend
more than half his friend said.
"Ay, dir-r-ty--he's always _that_. He's a dirthy fellow, that
thinks his yankee charactur is above all other things."
Nick's countenance became illuminated with an expression nowise akin to
that produced by rum, and he fastened on his companion one of his fiery
gazes, which occasionally seemed to penetrate to the centre of the
object looked at.
"Why pale-face hate one anoder? Why Irishman don't love yankee?"
"Och! love the crathure, is it? You'd betther ask me to love a to'd"--
for so Michael would pronounce the word 'toad.' "What is there to love
about him, but skin and bone! I'd as soon love a skiliten. Yes--an
Nick made another gesture, and then he endeavoured to reflect, like one
who had a grave business in contemplation. The Santa Cruz confused his
brain, but the Indian never entirely lost his presence of mind; or
never, at least, so long as he could either see or walk.
"Don't like him"--rejoined Nick. "Like anybody?"
"To be sure I does--I like the capt'in--och, _he_'s a jontleman--
and I likes the missus; she's a laddy--and I likes Miss Beuly, who's a
swate young woman--and then there's Miss Maud, who's the delight of my
eyes. Fegs, but isn't _she_ a crathure to relish!"
Mike spoke like a good honest fellow, as he was at the bottom, with all
his heart and soul. The Indian did not seem pleased, but he made no
"You've been in the wars then, Nick!" asked the Irishman, after a short
"Yes--Nick been chief ag'in--take scalps."
"Ach! That's a mighty ugly thrade! If you'd tell 'em that in Ireland,
they'd not think it a possibility."
"No like fight in Ireland, hah?"
"I'll not say that--no, I'll not say that; for many's the jollification
at which the fighting is the chafe amusement. But we likes
_thumping_ on the head--not _skinning_ it."
"That your fashion--my fashion take scalp. You thump; I skin--which
"Augh! skinnin' is a dreadthful operation; but shillaleh-work comes
nately and nat'rally. How many of these said scalps, now, may ye have
picked up, Nick, in yer last journey?"
"T'ree--all man and woman--no pappoose. One big enough make _two_;
so call him _four_."
"Oh! Divil burn ye, Nick; but there's a spice of your namesake in ye,
afther all. T'ree human crathures skinned, and you not satisfied, and
so ye'll chait a bit to make 'em four! D'ye never think, now, of yer
latther ind? D'ye never confess?"
"T'ink every day of _dat_. Hope to find more, before last day
come. Plenty scalp _here_; ha, Mike?"
This was said a little incautiously, perhaps, but it was said under a
strong native impulse. The Irishman, however, was never very logical or
clear-headed; and three gills of rum had, by no means, helped to purify
his brain. He heard the word "plenty," knew he was well fed and warmly
clad, and just now, that Santa Cruz so much abounded, the term seemed
"It's a plinthiful place it is, is this very manor. There's all sorts
of things in it that's wanted. There's food and raiment, and cattle,
and grain, and porkers, and praiching--yes, divil burn it, Nick, but
there's what _goes_ for praiching, though it's no more like what
_we_ calls praiching than yer'e like Miss Maud in comeliness, and
ye'll own, yourself, Nick, yer'e no beauty."
"Got handsome hair," said Nick, surlily--"How she look widout scalp?"
"The likes of her, is it! Who ever saw one of her beauthy without the
finest hair that ever was! What do you get for your scalps?--are they
of any use when you find 'em?"
"Bring plenty bye'm-by. Whole country glad to see him before long--den
beavers get pond ag'in."
"How's that--how's that, Indian? Baiver get pounded? There's no pound,
hereabouts, and baivers is not an animal to be shut up like a hog!"
Nick perceived that his friend was past argumentation, and as he
himself was approaching the state when the drunkard receives delight
from he knows not what, it is unnecessary to relate any more of the
dialogue. The jug was finished, each man very honestly drinking his
pint, and as naturally submitting to its consequences; and this so much
the more because the two were so engrossed with the rum that both
forgot to pay that attention to the spring that might have been
expected from its proximity.
The soul, my lord, is fashioned--like the lyre.
Strike one chord suddenly, and others vibrate.
Your name abruptly mentioned, casual words
Of comment on your deeds, praise from your uncle,
News from the armies, talk of your return,
A word let fall touching your youthful passion,
Suffused her cheek, call'd to her drooping eye
A momentary lustre, made her pulse
Leap headlong, and her bosom palpitate.
The approach of night, at sea and in a wilderness, has always something
more solemn in it, than on land in the centre of civilization. As the
curtain is drawn before his eyes, the solitude of the mariner is
increased, while even his sleepless vigilance seems, in a measure,
baffled, by the manner in which he is cut off from the signs of the
hour. Thus, too, in the forest, or in an isolated clearing, the
mysteries of the woods are deepened, and danger is robbed of its
forethought and customary guards. That evening, Major Willoughby stood
at a window with an arm round the slender waist of Beulah, Maud
standing a little aloof; and, as the twilight retired, leaving the
shadows of evening to thicken on the forest that lay within a few
hundred feet of that side of the Hut, and casting a gloom over the
whole of the quiet solitude, he felt the force of the feeling just
mentioned, in a degree he had never before experienced.
"This is a _very_ retired abode, my sisters," he said,
thoughtfully. "Do my father and mother never speak of bringing you out
more into the world?"
"They take us to New York every winter, now father is in the Assembly,"
quietly answered Beulah. "We expected to meet you there, last season,
and were greatly disappointed that you did not come."
"My regiment was sent to the eastward, as you know, and having just
received my new rank of major, it would not do to be absent at the
moment. Do you ever see any one here, besides those who belong to the
"Oh! yes"--exclaimed Maud eagerly--then she paused, as if sorry she had
said anything; continuing, after a little pause, in a much more
moderated vein--"I mean occasionally. No doubt the place is very
"Of what characters are your visiters?--hunters, trappers, settlers--
savages or travellers?"
Maud did not answer; but, Beulah, after waiting a moment for her sister
to reply, took that office on herself.
"Some of all," she said, "though few certainly of the latter class. The
hunters are often here; one or two a month, in the mild season;
settlers rarely, as you may suppose, since my father will not sell, and
there are not many about, I believe; the Indians come more frequently,
though I think we have seen less of them, during Nick's absence than
while he was more with us. Still we have as many as a hundred in a
year, perhaps, counting the women. They come in parties, you know, and
five or six of these will make that number. As for travellers, they are
rare; being generally surveyors, land-hunters, or perhaps a proprietor
who is looking up his estate. We had two of the last in the fall,
before we went below."
"That is singular; and yet one might well look for an estate in a
wilderness like this. Who were your proprietors?"
"An elderly man, and a young one. The first was a sort of partner of
the late Sir William's, I believe, who has a grant somewhere near us,
for which he was searching. His name was Fonda. The other was one of
the Beekmans, who has lately succeeded his father in a property of
considerable extent, somewhere at no great distance from us, and came
to take a look at it. They say he has quite a hundred thousand acres,
in one body."
"And did he find his land? Tracts of thousands and tens of thousands,
are sometimes not to be discovered."
"We saw him twice, going and returning, and he was successful. The last
time, he was detained by a snow-storm, and staid with us some days--so
long, indeed, that he remained, and accompanied us out, when we went
below. We saw much of him, too, last winter, in town."
"Maud, you wrote me nothing of all this! Are visiters of this sort so
very common that you do not speak of them in your letters?"
"Did I not?--Beulah will scarce pardon me for _that_. She thinks
Mr. Evert Beekman more worthy of a place in a letter, than I do,
"I think him a very respectable and sensible young man," answered
Beulah quietly though there was a deeper tint on her cheek than common,
which it was too dark to see. "I am not certain, however, he need fill
much space in the letters of either of your sisters.'
"Well, this is _something_ gleaned!" said the major,
laughing--"and now, Beulah, if you will only let out a secret of the
same sort about Maud, I shall be _au fait_ of all the family
"All!" repeated Maud, quickly--"would there be nothing to tell of a
certain major Willoughby, brother of mine?"
"Not a syllable. I am as heart-whole as a sound oak, and hope to remain
so. At all events, all I love is in this house. To tell you the truth,
girls, these are not times for a soldier to think of anything but his
duty. The quarrel is getting to be serious between the mother country
and her colonies."
"Not so serious, brother," observed Beulah, earnestly, "as to amount to
_that_. Evert Beekman thinks there will be trouble, but he does
not appear to fancy it will go as far as very serious violence."
"Evert _Beekman_!--most of that family are loyal, I believe; how
is it with this Evert?"
"I dare say, _you_ would call him a _rebel_," answered Maud,
laughing, for now Beulah chose to be silent, leaving her sister to
explain, "He is not _fiery_; but he calls himself an _American_,
with emphasis; and that is saying a good deal, when it means he
is not an _Englishman_. Pray what do you call yourself, Bob?"
"I!--Certainly an American in one sense, but an Englishman in another.
An American, as my father was a Cumberland-man, and an Englishman as a
subject, and as connected with the empire."
"As St. Paul was a Roman. Heigho!--Well, I fear I have but one
character--or, if I have two, they are an American, and a New York
girl. Did I dress in scarlet, as you do, I might feel English too,
"This is making a trifling misunderstanding too serious," observed
Beulah. "Nothing can come of all the big words that have been used,
than more big words. I know that is Evert Beekman's opinion."
"I hope you may prove a true prophet," answered the major, once more
buried in thought. "This place _does_ seem to be fearfully retired
for a family like ours. I hope my father may be persuaded to pass more
of his time in New York. Does he ever speak on the subject, girls, or
appear to have any uneasiness?"
"Uneasiness about what? The place is health itself: all sorts of
fevers, and agues, and those things being quite unknown. Mamma says the
toothache, even, cannot be found in this healthful spot."
"That is lucky--and, yet, I wish captain Willoughby--_Sir Hugh_
Willoughby could be induced to live more in New York. Girls of your
time of life, ought to be in the way of seeing the world, too."
"In other words, of seeing admirers, major Bob," said Maud, laughing,
and bending forward to steal a glance in her brother's face. "Good
night. _Sir Hugh_ wishes us to send you into his library when we
can spare you, and _my lady_ has sent us a hint that it is ten
o'clock, at which hour it is usual for sober people to retire."
The major kissed both sisters with warm affection--Beulah fancied with
a sobered tenderness, and Maud thought kindly--and then they retired to
join their mother, while he went to seek his father.
The captain was smoking in the library, as a room of all-_head_-
work was called, in company with the chaplain. The practice of using
tobacco in this form, had grown to be so strong in both of these old
inmates of garrisons, that they usually passed an hour, in the
recreation, before they went to bed. Nor shall we mislead the reader
with any notions of fine-flavoured Havana segars; pipes, with Virginia
cut, being the materials employed in the indulgence. A little excellent
Cogniac and water, in which however the spring was not as much
neglected, as in the orgies related in the previous chapter, moistened
their lips, from time to time, giving a certain zest and comfort to
their enjoyments. Just as the door opened to admit the major, he was
the subject of discourse, the proud parent and the partial friend
finding almost an equal gratification in discussing his fine, manly
appearance, good qualities, and future hopes. His presence was
untimely, then, in one sense; though he was welcome, and, indeed,
expected. The captain pushed a chair to his son, and invited him to
take a seat near the table, which held a spare pipe or two, a box of
tobacco, a decanter of excellent brandy, a pitcher of pure water, all
pleasant companions to the elderly gentlemen, then in possession.
"I suppose you are too much of a maccaroni, Bob, to smoke," observed
the smiling father. "I detested a pipe at your time of life; or may
say, I was afraid of it; the only smoke that was in fashion among our
scarlet coats being the smoke of gunpowder. Well, how comes on Gage,
and your neighbours the Yankees?"
"Why, sir," answered the major, looking behind him, to make sure that
the door was shut--"Why, sir, to own the truth, my visit, here, just at
this moment, is connected with the present state of that quarrel."
Both the captain and the chaplain drew the pipes from their mouths,
holding them suspended in surprise and attention.
"The deuce it is!" exclaimed the former. "I thought I owed this
unexpected pleasure to your affectionate desire to let me know I had
inherited the empty honours of a baronetcy!"
"That was _one_ motive, sir, but the least. I beg you to remember
the awkwardness of my position, as a king's officer, in the midst of
"The devil! I say, parson, this exceeds heresy and schism! Do you call
lodging in your father's house, major Willoughby, being in the midst of
enemies? This is rebellion against nature, and is worse than rebellion
against the king."
"My dear father, no one feels more secure with _you_, than I do;
or, even, with Mr. Woods, here. But, there are others besides you two,
in this part of the world, and your very settlement may not be safe a
week longer; probably would not be, if my presence in it were known."
Both the listeners, now, fairly laid down their pipes, and the smoke
began gradually to dissipate, as it might have been rising from a field
of battle. One looked at the other, in wonder, and, then, both looked
at the major, in curiosity.
"What is the meaning of all this, my son?" asked the captain, gravely.
"Has anything new occurred to complicate the old causes of quarrel?"
"Blood has, at length, been drawn, sir; open rebellion has commenced!"
"This is a serious matter, indeed, if it be really so. But do you not
exaggerate the consequences of some fresh indiscretion of the soldiery,
in firing on the people? Remember, in the other affair, even the
colonial authorities justified the officers."
"This is a very different matter, sir. Blood has not been drawn in a
_riot_, but in a _battle_."
"Battle! You amaze me, sir! That is indeed a serious matter, and may
lead to most serious consequences!"
"The Lord preserve us from evil times," ejaculated the chaplain, "and
lead us, poor, dependent creatures that we are, into the paths of peace
and quietness! Without his grace, we are the blind leading the blind."
"Do you mean, major Willoughby, that armed and disciplined bodies have
met in actual conflict?"
"Perhaps not literally so, my dear father; but the minute-men of
Massachusetts, and His Majesty's forces, have met and fought. This I
know, full well; for my own regiment was in the field, and, I hope it
is unnecessary to add, that its second officer was not absent."
"Of course these minute-men--rabble would be the better word--could not
stand before you?" said the captain, compressing his lips, under a
strong impulse of military pride.
Major Willoughby coloured, and, to own the truth, at that moment he
wished the Rev. Mr. Woods, if not literally at the devil, at least safe
and sound in another room; anywhere, so it were out of ear-shot of the
"Why, sir," he said, hesitating, not to say stammering, notwithstanding
a prodigious effort to seem philosophical and calm--"To own the truth,
these minute-fellows are not quite as contemptible as we soldiers would
be apt to think. It was a stone-wall affair, and dodging work; and, so,
you know, sir, drilled troops wouldn't have the usual chance. They
pressed us pretty warmly on the retreat."
"_Retreat_! Major Willoughby!"
"I called it retreat, sure enough; but it was only a march _in_,
again, after having done the business on which we went out. I shall
admit, I say, sir, that we were hard pressed, until _reinforced_."
"_Reinforced_, my dear Bob! _Your_ regiment, _our_
regiment could not need a reinforcement against all the Yankees in New
The major could not abstain from laughing, a little, at this exhibition
of his father's _esprit de corps_; but native frankness, and love
of truth, compelled him to admit the contrary.
"It _did_, sir, notwithstanding," he answered; "and, not to mince
the matter, it needed it confoundedly. Some of our officers who have
seen the hardest service of the last war, declare, that taking the
march, and the popping work, and the distance, altogether, it was the
warmest day _they_ remember. Our loss, too, was by no means
insignificant, as I hope you will believe, when you know the troops
engaged. We report something like three hundred casualties."
The captain did not answer for quite a minute. All this time he sat
thoughtful, and even pale; for his mind was teeming with the pregnant
consequences of such an outbreak. Then he desired his son to give a
succinct, but connected history of the whole affair. The major
complied, beginning his narrative with an account of the general state
of the country, and concluding it, by giving, as far as it was possible
for one whose professional pride and political feelings were too deeply
involved to be entirely impartial, a reasonably just account of the
particular occurrence already mentioned.
The events that led to, and the hot skirmish which it is the practice
of the country to call the Battle of Lexington, and the incidents of
the day itself, are too familiar to the ordinary reader, to require
repetition here. The major explained all the military points very
clearly, did full justice to the perseverance and daring of the
provincials, as he called his enemies--for, an American himself, he
would not term them Americans--and threw in as many explanatory remarks
as he could think of, by way of vindicating the "march _in_,
again." This he did, too, quite as much out of filial piety, as out of
self-love; for, to own the truth, the captain's mortification, as a
soldier, was so very evident as to give his son sensible pain.
"The effect of all this," continued the major, when his narrative of
the military movements was ended, "has been to raise a tremendous
feeling, throughout the country, and God knows what is to follow."
"And this you have come hither to tell me, Robert," said the father,
kindly. "It is well done, and as I would have expected from you. We
might have passed the summer, here, and not have heard a whisper of so
important an event."
"Soon after the affair--or, as soon as we got some notion of its effect
on the provinces, general Gage sent me, privately, with despatches to
governor Tryon. _He_, governor Tryon, was aware of your position;
and, as I had also to communicate the death of Sir Harry Willoughby, he
directed me to come up the river, privately, have an interview with Sir
John, if possible, and then push on, under a feigned name, and
communicate with you. He thinks, now Sir William is dead, that with
your estate, and new rank, and local influence, you might be very
serviceable in sustaining the royal cause; for, it is not to be
concealed that this affair is likely to take the character of an open
and wide-spread revolt against the authority of the crown."
"General Tryon does me too much honour," answered the captain, coldly.
"My estate is a small body of wild land; my influence extends little
beyond this beaver meadow, and is confined to my own household, and
some fifteen or twenty labourers; and as for the _new rank_ of
which you speak, it is not likely the colonists will care much for
_that,_ if they disregard the rights of the king. Still, you have
acted like a son in running the risk you do, Bob; and I pray God you
may get back to your regiment, in safety."
"This is a cordial to my hopes, sir; for nothing would pain me more
than to believe you think it my duty, because I was born in the
colonies, to throw up my commission, and take side with the rebels."
"I do not conceive that to be your duty, any more than I conceive it to
be mine to take sides against them, because I happened to be born in
England. It is a weak view of moral obligations, that confines them
merely to the accidents of birth, and birth-place. Such a subsequent
state of things may have grown up, as to change all our duties, and it
is necessary that we discharge them as they _are_; not as they may
have been, hitherto, or may be, hereafter. Those who clamour so much
about mere birth-place, usually have no very clear sense of their
higher obligations. Over our birth we can have no control; while we are
rigidly responsible for the fulfilment of obligations voluntarily
"Do you reason thus, captain?" asked the chaplain, with strong
interest--"Now, I confess, I _feel_, in this matter, not only very
much like a native American, but very much like a native Yankee, in the
bargain. You know I was born in the Bay, and--the major must excuse
me--but, it ill-becomes my cloth to deceive--I hope the major will
pardon me--I--I do hope--"
"Speak out, Mr. Woods," said Robert Willoughby, smiling--"_You_
have nothing to fear from your old friend the major."
"So I thought--so I thought--well, then, I was glad--yes, really
rejoiced at heart, to hear that my countrymen, down-east, there, had
made the king's troops scamper,"
"I am not aware that I used any such terms, sir, in connection with the
manner in which we marched in, after the duty we went out on was
performed," returned the young soldier, a little stiffly. "I suppose it
is natural for one Yankee to sympathize with another; but, my father,
Mr. Woods, is an _Old_ England, and not a _New_-England-man;
and he may be excused if he feel more for the servants of the crown."
"Certainly, my dear major--certainly, my dear Mr. Robert--my old pupil,
and, I hope, my friend--all this is true enough, and very natural. I
allow captain Willoughby to wish the best for the king's troops, while
I wish the best for my own countrymen."
"This is natural, on both sides, out of all question, though it by no
means follows that it is right. 'Our country, right or wrong,' is a
high-sounding maxim, but it is scarcely the honest man's maxim. Our
country, after all, cannot have nearer claims upon us, than our parents
for instance; and who can claim a moral right to sustain even his own
father, in error, injustice, or crime? No, no--I hate your pithy
sayings; they commonly mean nothing that is substantially good, at
"But one's country, in a time of actual war, sir!" said the major, in a
tone of as much remonstrance as habit would allow him to use to his own
"Quite true, Bob; but the difficulty here, is to know which _is_
one's country. It is a family quarrel, at the best, and it will hardly
do to talk about foreigners, at all. It is the same as if I should
treat Maud unkindly, or harshly, because she is the child of only a
friend, and not my own natural daughter. As God is my judge, Woods, I
am unconscious of not loving Maud Meredith, at this moment, as tenderly
as I love Beulah Willoughby. There was a period, in her childhood, when
the playful little witch had most of my heart, I am afraid, if the
truth were known. It is use, and duty, then, and not mere birth, that
ought to tie our hearts."
The major thought it might very well be that one child should be loved
more than another, though he did not understand how there could be a
divided allegiance. The chaplain looked at the subject with views still
more narrowed, and he took up the cudgels of argument in sober earnest,
conceiving this to be as good an opportunity as another, for disposing
of the matter.
"I am all for birth, and blood, and natural ties," he said, "always
excepting the peculiar claims of Miss Maud, whose case is _sui
generis_, and not to be confounded with any other case. A man can
have but one country, any more than he can have but one nature; and, as
he is forced to be true to that nature, so ought he morally to be true
to that country. The captain says, that it is difficult to determine
which is one's country, in a civil war; but I cannot admit the
argument. If Massachusetts and England get to blows, Massachusetts is
my country; if Suffolk and Worcester counties get into a quarrel, my
duty calls me to Worcester, where I was born; and so I should carry out
the principle from country to country, county to county, town to town,
parish to parish; or, even household to household."
"This is an extraordinary view of one's duty, indeed, my dear Mr.
Woods," cried the major, with a good deal of animation; "and if one-
half the household quarrelled with the other, you would take sides with
that in which you happened to find yourself, at the moment."
"It is an extraordinary view of one's duty, for a _parson_;"
observed the captain. "Let us reason backward a little, and ascertain
where we shall come out. You put the head of the household out of the
question. Has he no claims? Is a father to be altogether overlooked in
the struggle between the children? Are his laws to be broken--his
rights invaded--or his person to be maltreated, perhaps, and his curse
disregarded, because a set of unruly children get by the ears, on
points connected with their own selfishness?"
"I give up the household," cried the chaplain, "for the bible settles
that; and what the bible disposes of, is beyond dispute--'Honour thy
father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the
Lord thy God giveth thee'--are terrible words, and must not be
disobeyed. But the decalogue has not another syllable which touches the
question. 'Thou shalt not kill,' means murder only; common, vulgar
murder--and 'thou shalt not steal,' 'thou shalt not commit adultery,'
&c., don't bear on civil war, as I see. 'Remember the Sabbath to keep
it holy'--'Thou shalt not covet the ox nor the ass'--'Thou shalt not
take the name of the Lord thy God in vain'--none of these, not one of
them, bears, at all, on this question."
"What do you think of the words of the Saviour, where he tells us to
'render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's? Has Caesar no rights
here? Can Massachusetts and my Lord North settle their quarrels in such
a manner as to put Caesar altogether out of view?"
The chaplain looked down a moment, pondered a little, and then he came
up to the attack, again, with renewed ardour.
"Caesar is out of the question here. If His Majesty will come and take
sides with us, we shall be ready to honour and obey him; but if he
choose to remain alienated from us, it is his act, not ours."
"This is a new mode of settling allegiance! If Caesar will do as we
wish, he shall still be Caesar; but, if he refuse to do as we wish, then
down with Caesar. I am an old soldier, Woods, and while I feel that this
question has two sides to it, my disposition to reverence and honour
the king is still strong."
The major appeared delighted, and, finding matters going on so
favourably, he pleaded fatigue and withdrew, feeling satisfied that, if
his father fairly got into a warm discussion, taking the loyal side of
the question, he would do more to confirm himself in the desired views,
than could be effected by any other means. By this time, the disputants
were so warm as scarcely to notice the disappearance of the young man,
the argument proceeding.
The subject is too hackneyed, and, indeed, possesses too little
interest, to induce us to give more than an outline of what passed. The
captain and the chaplain belonged to that class of friends, which may
be termed argumentative. Their constant discussions were a strong link
in the chain of esteem; for they had a tendency to enliven their
solitude, and to give a zest to lives that, without them, would have
been exceedingly monotonous. Their ordinary subjects were theology and
war; the chaplain having some practical knowledge of the last, and the
captain a lively disposition to the first. In these discussions, the
clergyman was good-natured and the soldier polite; circumstances that
tended to render them far more agreeable to the listeners than they
might otherwise have proved.
On the present occasion, the chaplain rang the changes diligently, on
the natural feelings, while his friend spoke most of the higher duties.
The _ad captandum_ part of the argument, oddly enough, fell to the
share of the minister of the church; while the intellectual,
discriminating, and really logical portion of the subject, was handled
by one trained in garrisons and camps, with a truth, both of ethics and
reason, that would have done credit to a drilled casuist. The war of
words continued till past midnight, both disputants soon getting back
to their pipes, carrying on the conflict amid a smoke that did no
dishonour to such a well-contested field. Leaving the captain and his
friend thus intently engaged, we will take one or two glimpses into
different parts of the house, before we cause all our characters to
retire for the night.
About the time the battle in the library was at its height, Mrs.
Willoughby was alone in her room, having disposed of all the cares, and
most of the duties of the day. The mother's heart was filled with a
calm delight that it would have been difficult for herself to describe.
All she held most dear on earth, her husband, her kind-hearted,
faithful, long-loved husband; her noble son, the pride and joy of her
heart; Beulah, her own natural-born daughter, the mild, tractable,
sincere, true-hearted child that so much resembled herself; and Maud,
the adopted, one rendered dear by solicitude and tenderness, and now so
fondly beloved on her own account, were all with her, beneath her own
roof, almost within the circle of her arms. The Hutted Knoll was no
longer a solitude; the manor was not a wilderness to _her_; for
where her heart was, there truly was her treasure, also. After passing
a few minutes in silent, but delightful thought, this excellent,
guileless woman knelt and poured out her soul in thanksgivings to the
Being, who had surrounded her lot with so many blessings. Alas! little
did she suspect the extent, duration, and direful nature of the evils
which, at that very moment, were pending over her native country, or
the pains that her own affectionate hear? was to endure! The major had
not suffered a whisper of the real nature of his errand to escape him,
except to his father and the chaplain; and we will now follow him to
his apartment, and pass a minute, _tete-a-tete,_ with the young
soldier, ere he too lays his head on his pillow.
A couple of neat rooms were prepared and furnished, that were held
sacred to the uses of the heir. They were known to the whole household,
black and white, as the "young captain's quarters;" and even Maud
called them, in her laughing off-handedness, "Bob's Sanctum." Here,
then, the major found everything as he left it on his last visit, a
twelvemonth before; and some few things that were strangers to him, in
the bargain. In that day, toilets covered with muslin, more or less
worked and ornamented, were a regular appliance of every bed-room, of a
better-class house, throughout America. The more modern "Duchesses,"
"Psyches," "dressing-tables," &c. &c., of our own extravagant and
benefit-of-the-act-taking generation, were then unknown; a moderately-
sized glass, surrounded by curved, gilded ornaments, hanging against
the wall, above the said muslin-covered table, quite as a matter of
law, if not of domestic faith.
As soon as the major had set down his candle, he looked about him, as
one recognises old friends, pleased at renewing his acquaintance with
so many dear and cherished objects. The very playthings of his
childhood were there; and, even a beautiful and long-used hoop, was
embellished with ribbons, by some hand unknown to himself. "Can this be
my mother?" thought the young man, approaching to examine the well-
remembered hoop, which he had never found so honoured before; "can my
kind, tender-hearted mother, who never will forget that I am no longer
a child, can she have really done this? I must laugh at her, to-morrow,
about it, even while I kiss and bless her." Then he turned to the
toilet, where stood a basket, filled with different articles, which, at
once, he understood were offerings to himself. Never had he visited the
Hut without finding such a basket in his room at night. It was a tender
proof how truly and well he was remembered, in his absence.
"Ah!" thought the major, as he opened a bundle of knit lamb's-wool
stockings, "here is my dear mother again, with her thoughts about damp
feet, and the exposure of service. And a dozen shirts, too, with
'Beulah' pinned on one of them--how the deuce does the dear girl
suppose I am to carry away such a stock of linen, without even a horse
to ease me of a bundle? My kit would be like that of the commander-in-
chief, were I to take away all that these dear relatives design for me.
What's this?--a purse! a handsome silken purse, too, with Beulah's name
on it. Has Maud nothing, here? Why has Maud forgotten me! Ruffles,
handkerchiefs, garters--yes, here is a pair of my good mother's own
knitting, but nothing of Maud's--Ha! what have we here? As I live, a
beautiful silken scarf--netted in a way to make a whole regiment
envious. Can this have been bought, or has it been the work of a
twelvemonth? No name on it, either. Would my father have done this?
Perhaps it is one of his old scarfs--if so, it is an old _new_
one, for I do not think it has ever been worn. I must inquire into
this, in the morning--I wonder there is nothing of Maud's!"
As the major laid aside his presents, he kissed the scarf, and then--I
regret to say without saying _his_ prayers--the young man went to
The scene must now be transferred to the room where the sisters--in
affection, if not in blood--were about to seek their pillows also.
Maud, ever the quickest and most prompt in her movements, was already
in her night-clothes; and, wrapping a shawl about herself, was seated
waiting for Beulah to finish her nightly orisons. It was not long
before the latter rose from her knees, and then our heroine spoke.
"The major must have examined the basket by this time," she cried, her
cheek rivalling the tint of a riband it leaned against, on the back of
the chair. "I heard his heavy tramp--tramp--tramp--as he went to his
room--how differently these men walk from us girls, Beulah!"
"They do, indeed; and Bob has got to be so large and heavy, now, that
he quite frightens me, sometimes. Do you not think he grows wonderfully
"I do not see it. He wears his own hair, and it's a pity he should ever
cut it off, it's so handsome and curling. Then he is taller, but
lighter--has more colour--is so much younger--and everyway so
different, I wonder you think so. I do not think him in the least like
"Well, that is odd, Maud. Both mother and myself were struck with the
resemblance, this evening, and we were both delighted to see it. Papa
is quite handsome, and so I think is Bob. Mother says he is not
_quite_ as handsome as father was, at his age, but _so_ like
him, it is surprising!"
"Men may be handsome and not alike. Father is certainly one of the
handsomest elderly men of my acquaintance--and the major is so-so-ish--
but, I wonder you can think a man of seven-and-twenty so _very_
like one of sixty odd. Bob tells me he can play the flute quite readily
"I dare say; he does everything he undertakes uncommonly well. Mr.
Woods said, a few days since, he had never met with a boy who was
quicker at his mathematics."
"Oh! All Mr. Wood's geese are swans. I dare say there have been other
boys who were quite as clever. I do not believe in _non-pareils,_
"You surprise me, Maud--you, whom I always supposed such a friend of
Bob's! He thinks everything _you_ do, too, so perfect! Now, this
very evening, he was looking at the sketch you have made of the Knoll,
and he protested he did not know a regular artist in England, even,
that would have done it better."
Maud stole a glance at her sister, while the latter was speaking, from
under her cap, and her cheeks now fairly put the riband to shame; but
her smile was still saucy and wilful.
"Oh nonsense," she said--"Bob's no judge of drawings--_He_ scarce
knows a tree from a horse!"
"I'm surprised to hear you say so, Maud," said the generous-minded and
affectionate Beulah, who could see no imperfection in Bob; "and that of
your brother. When he taught _you_ to draw, you thought him well
skilled as an artist."
"Did I?--I dare say I'm a capricious creature--but, somehow, I don't
regard Bob, just as I used to. He has been away from us so much, of
late, you know--and the army makes men so formidable--and, they are not
like us, you know--and, altogether, I think Bob excessively changed."
"Well, I'm glad mamma don't hear this, Maud. She looks upon her son,
now he is a major, and twenty-seven, just as she used to look upon him,
when he was in petticoats--nay, I think she considers us all exactly as
so many little children."
"She is a dear, good mother, I know," said Maud, with emphasis, tears
starting to her eyes, involuntarily, almost _impetuously_--
"whatever she says, does, wishes, hopes, or thinks, is right."
"Oh! I knew you would come to, as soon as there was a question about
mother! Well, for my part, I have no such horror of men, as not to feel
just as much tenderness for father or brother, as I feel for mamma,
"Not for Bob, Beulah. Tenderness for Bob! Why, my dear sister, that is
feeling tenderness for a _Major of Foot_, a very different thing
from feeling it for one's mother. As for papa--dear me, he is glorious,
and I do so love him!"
"You ought to, Maud; for you were, and I am not certain that you are
not, at this moment, _his_ darling."
It was odd that this was said without the least thought, on the part of
the speaker, that Maud was not her natural sister--that, in fact, she
was not in the least degree related to her by blood. But so closely and
judiciously had captain and Mrs. Willoughby managed the affair of their
adopted child, that neither they themselves, Beulah, nor the inmates of
the family or household, ever thought of her, but as of a real daughter
of her nominal parents. As for Beulah, her feelings were so simple and
sincere, that they were even beyond the ordinary considerations of
delicacy, and she took precisely the same liberties with her titular,
as she would have done with a natural sister. Maud alone, of all in the
Hut, remembered her birth, and submitted to some of its most obvious
consequences. As respects the captain, the idea never crossed her mind,
that she was adopted by him; as respects her mother, she filled to her,
in every sense, that sacred character; Beulah, too, was a sister, in
thought and deed; but, Bob, he had so changed, had been so many years
separated from her; had once actually called her Miss Meredith--
somehow, she knew not how herself--it was fully six years since she had
begun to remember that _he_ was not her brother.
"As for my father," said Maud, rising with emotion, and speaking with
startling emphasis--"I will not say I _love_ him--I _worship_
"Ah! I know that well enough, Maud; and to say the truth, you are a
couple of idolaters, between you. Mamma says this, sometimes; though
she owns she is not jealous. But it would pain her excessively to hear
that you do not feel towards Bob, just as we all feel."
"But, ought I?--Beulah, I cannot!"
"Ought you!--Why not, Maud? Are you in your senses, child?"
"But--you know--I'm sure--you ought to remember--"
"_What_?" demanded Beulah, really frightened at the other's
"That I am _not_ his real--true--_born_ sister!"
This was the first time in their lives, either had ever alluded to the
fact, in the other's presence. Beulah turned pale; she trembled all
over, as if in an ague; then she luckily burst into tears, else she
might have fainted.
"Beulah--my sister--my _own_ sister!" cried Maud, throwing herself
into the arms of the distressed girl.
"Ah! Maud, you _are_, you _shall_ for ever be, my only, only
O! It is great for our country to die, where ranks are contending;
Bright is the wreath of our fame; Glory awaits us for aye--
Glory, that never is dim, shining on with light never ending--
Glory, that never shall fade, never, O! never away.
Notwithstanding the startling intelligence that had so unexpectedly
reached it, and the warm polemical conflict that had been carried on
within its walls, the night passed peacefully over the roof of the
Hutted Knoll. At the return of dawn, the two Plinys, both the Smashes,
and all the menials were again afoot; and, ere long, Mike, Saucy Nick
Joel, and the rest were seen astir, in the open fields, or in the
margin of the woods. Cattle were fed, cows milked fires lighted, and
everything pursued its course, in the order of May. The three wenches,
as female negroes were then termed, _ex officio_, in America,
opened their throats, as was usual at that hour, and were heard singing
at their labours, in a way nearly to deaden the morning carols of the
tenants of the forest. _Mari'_ in particular, would have drowned
the roar of Niagara. The captain used to call her his clarion.
In due time, the superiors of the household made their appearance. Mrs.
Willoughby was the first out of her room, as was ever the case when
there was anything to be done. On the present occasion, the "fatted
calf" was to be killed, not in honour of the return of a prodigal son,
however, but in behalf of one who was the pride of her eyes, and the
joy of her heart. The breakfast that she ordered was just the sort of
breakfast, that one must visit America to witness. France can set forth
a very scientific _dejeuner a la fourchette,_ and England has
laboured-and ponderous imitations; but, for the spontaneous,
superabundant, unsophisticated, natural, all-sufficing and all-subduing
morning's meal, take America, in a better-class house, in the country,
and you reach the _ne plus ultra_, in that sort of thing. Tea,
coffee, and chocolate, of which the first and last were excellent, and
the second respectable; ham, fish, eggs, toast, cakes, rolls,
marmalades, &c. &c. &c., were thrown together in noble confusion;
frequently occasioning the guest, as Mr. Woods naively confessed, an
utter confusion of mind, as to which he was to attack, when all were
inviting and each would be welcome.
Leaving Mrs. Willoughby in deep consultation with Mari' on the subject
of this feast, we will next look after the two sweet girls whom we so
abruptly deserted in the last chapter. When Maud's glowing cheeks were
first visible that morning, signs of tears might have been discovered
on them, as the traces of the dew are found on the leaf of the rose;
but they completely vanished under the duties of the toilet, and she
came forth from her chamber, bright and cloudless as the glorious May-
morning, which had returned to cheer the solitude of the manor. Beulah
followed, tranquil, bland and mild as the day itself, the living image
of the purity of soul, and deep affections, of her honest nature.
The sisters went into the breakfast-room, where they had little lady-
like offices of their own to discharge, too, in honour of the guest;
each employing herself in decorating the table, and in seeing that it
wanted nothing in the proprieties As their pleasing tasks were
fulfilled, the discourse did not flag between them. Nothing, however,
had been said, that made the smallest allusion to the conversation of
the past night. Neither felt any wish to revive that subject; and, as
for Maud, bitterly did she regret ever having broached it. At times,
her cheeks burned with blushes, as she recalled her words; and yet she
scarce knew the reason why. The feeling of Beulah was different. She
wondered her sister could ever think she was a Meredith, and not a
Willoughby. At times she feared some unfortunate oversight of her own,
some careless allusion, or indiscreet act, might have served to remind
Maud of the circumstances of her real birth. Yet there was nothing in
the last likely to awaken unpleasant reflections, apart from the
circumstance that she was not truly a child of the family into which
she had been transplanted. The Merediths were, at least, as nonourable
a family as the Willoughbys, in the ordinary worldly view of the
matter; nor was Maud, by any means, a dependant, in the way of money.
Five thousand pounds, in the English funds, had been settled on her, by
the marriage articles of her parents; and twenty years of careful
husbandry, during which every shilling had been scrupulously devoted to
accumulation, had quite doubled the original amount. So far from being
penniless, therefore, Maud's fortune was often alluded to by the
captain, in a jocular way, as if purposely to remind her that she had
the means of independence, and duties connected with it. It is true,
Maud, herself, had no suspicion that she had been educated altogether
by her "father," and that her own money had not been used for this
purpose. To own the truth, she thought little about it; knew little
about it, beyond the fact, that she had a fortune of her own, into the
possession of which she must step, when she attained her majority. How
she came by it, even, was a question she never asked though there were
moments when tender regrets and affectionate melancholy would come over
her heart, as she thought of her natural parents, and of their early
deaths. Still, Maud implicitly reposed on the captain and Mrs.
Willoughby, as on a father and mother; and it was not owing to _them_,
or anything connected with their love, treatment, words, or
thoughts, that she was reminded that they were not so in very fact, as
well as in tenderness.
"Bob will think _you_ made these plum sweetmeats, Beulah," said
Maud, with a saucy smile, as she placed a glass plate on the table--"He
never thinks I _can_ make anything of this sort; and, as he is so
fond of plums, he will be certain to taste them; then _you_ will
come in for the praise!"
"You appear to think, that _praise_ he must. Perhaps he may not
fancy them good."
"If I thought so, I would take them away this instant," cried Maud,
standing in the attitude of one in doubt. "Bob does _not_ think
much of such things in girls, for he says ladies need not be cooks; and
yet when one _does_ make a thing of this sort, one would certainly
like to have it _well_ made."
"Set your heart at ease, Maud; the plums are delicious--much the best
we ever had, and we are rather famous for them, you know. I'll answer
for it, Bob will pronounce them the best he has ever tasted."
"And if he shouldn't, why should I care--that is, not _very
much_--about it. You know they are the first I ever made, and one
may be permitted to fail on a first effort. Besides, a man _may_
go to England, and see fine sights, and live in great houses, and all
that, and not understand when he has good plum sweetmeats before him,
and when bad. I dare say there are many _colonels_ in the army,
who are ignorant on this point."
Beulah laughed, and admitted the truth of the remark; though, in her
secret mind, she had almost persuaded herself that Bob knew everything.
"Do you not think our brother improved in appearance, Maud," she asked,
after a short pause. "The visit to England has done him that service,
"I don't see it, Beulah--I see no change. To me, Bob is just the same
to-day, that he has ever been; that is, ever since he grew to be a
man--with boys, of course, it is different. Ever since he was made a
captain, I mean."
As major Willoughby had reached that rank the day he was one-and-
twenty, the reader can understand the precise date when Maud began to
take her present views of his appearance and character.
"I am surprised to hear you say so, Maud! Papa says he is better 'set
up,' as he calls it, by his English drill, and that he looks altogether
more like a soldier than he did."
"Bob has always had a martial look!" cried Maud, quickly--"He got that
in garrison, when a boy."
"If so, I hope he may never lose it!" said the subject of the remark,
himself, who had entered the room unperceived, and overheard this
speech. "Being a soldier, one would wish to look like what he is, my
The kiss that followed, and that given to Beulah, were no more than the
usual morning salutations of a brother to his sisters, slight touches
of rosy cheeks; and yet Maud blushed; for, as she said to herself, she
had been taken by surprise.
"They say listeners never hear good of themselves," answered Maud, with
a vivacity that betokened confusion. "Had you come a minute sooner,
master Bob, it might have been an advantage."
"Oh! Beulah's remarks I do not fear; so long as I get off unscathed
from yours, Miss Maud, I shall think myself a lucky fellow. But what
has brought me and my training into discussion, this morning?"
"It is natural for sisters to speak about their brother after so
"Tell him nothing about it, Beulah," interrupted Maud. "Let him listen,
and eaves-drop, and find out as he may, if he would learn our secrets.
There, major Willoughby, I hope that is a promise of a breakfast, which
will satisfy even your military appetite!"
"It looks well, indeed, Maud--and there, I perceive, are some of
Beulah's excellent plums, of which I am so fond--know they were made
especially for me, and I must kiss you, sister, for this proof of
Beulah, to whose simple mind it seemed injustice to appropriate credit
that belonged to another, was about to tell the truth; but an imploring
gesture from her sister induced her to smile, and receive the salute in
"Has any one seen captain Willoughby and parson Woods this morning?"
inquired the major. "I left them desperately engaged in discussion, and
I really feel some apprehension as to the remains left on the field of
"Here they both come," cried Maud, glad to find the discourse taking so
complete a change; "and there is mamma, followed by Pliny, to tell
Beulah to take her station at the coffee, while I go to the chocolate,
leaving the tea to the only hand that can make it so that my father
will drink it."
The parties mentioned entered the room, in the order named; the usual
salutations followed, and all took their seats at table. Captain
Willoughby was silent and thoughtful at first, leaving his son to
rattle on, in a way that betokened care, in his view of the matter,
quite as much as it betokened light-heartedness in those of his mother
and sisters. The chaplain was rather more communicative than his
friend; but he, too, seemed restless, and desirous of arriving at some
point that was not likely to come uppermost, in such a family party. At
length, the impulses of Mr. Woods got the better of his discretion,
even, and he could conceal his thoughts no longer.
"Captain Willoughby," he said, in a sort of apologetic, and yet simple
and natural manner, "I have done little since we parted, seven hours
since, but think of the matter under discussion."
"If you have, my dear Woods, there has been a strong sympathy between
us; I have scarcely slept. I may say I have thought of nothing else,
myself, and am glad you have broached the subject, again."
"I was about to say, my worthy sir, that reflection, and my pillow, and
your sound and admirable arguments, have produced an entire change in
my sentiments. I think, now, altogether with you."
"The devil you do, Woods!" cried the captain, looking up from his bit
of dry toast, in astonishment. "Why, my dear fellow--this is odd--
excessively odd, if the truth must be said.--To own the real state of
the case, chaplain, you have won _me_ over, and I was just about
to make proper acknowledgments of your victory!"
It need scarcely be added that the rest of the company were not a
little amazed at these cross-concessions, while Maud was exceedingly
amused. As for Mrs. Willoughby, nothing laughable ever occurred in
connection with her husband; and then she would as soon think of
assailing the church itself, as to ridicule one of its ministers.
Beulah could see nothing but what was right in her father, at least;
and, as for the major, he felt too much concerned at this unexpected
admission of his father's, to perceive anything but the error.
"Have you not overlooked the injunction of scripture, my excellent
friend?" rejoined the chaplain. "Have you left to the rights of Caesar,
all their weight and authority? 'The king's name is a tower of
"Have not you, Woods, forgotten the superior claims of reason and
right, over those of accident and birth--that man is to be considered
as a reasoning being, to be governed by principles and ever-varying
facts, and not a mere animal left to the control of an instinct that
perishes with its usefulness?"
"What _can_ they mean, mother?" whispered Maud, scarce able to
repress the laughter that came so easily to one with a keen sense of
"They have been arguing about the right of parliament to tax the
colonies, I believe, my dear, and _over-persuaded_ each other,
that's all. It _is_ odd, Robert, that Mr. Woods should convert
"No, my dearest mother, it is something even more serious than that."
By this time, the disputants, who sat opposite each other, were fairly
launched into the discussion, again, and heeded nothing that
passed--"No, dearest mother, it is far worse than even _that_.
Pliny, tell my man to brush the hunting-jacket--and, see he has his
breakfast, in good style--he is a grumbling rascal, and will give the
house a bad character, else--you need not come back, until we ring for
you--yes, mother, yes dearest girls, this is a far more serious matter
than you suppose, though it ought not to be mentioned idly, among the
people. God knows now they may take it--and bad news flies swift
enough, of itself."
"Merciful Providence!" exclaimed Mrs. Willoughby-"What _can_ you
mean, my son?"
"I mean, mother, that civil war has actually commenced in the colonies,
and that the people of your blood and race are, in open arms, against
the people of my father's native country--in a word, against me."
"How can that be, Robert? Who would _dare_ to strike a blow
against the king?"
"When men get excited, and their passions are once inflamed, they will
do much, my mother, that they might not dream of, else."
"This must be a mistake! Some evil-disposed person has told you this,
Robert, knowing your attachment to the crown."
"I wish it were so, dear madam; but my own eyes have seen--I may say my
own flesh has felt, the contrary."
The major then related what had happened, letting his auditors into the
secret of the true state of the country. It is scarcely necessary to
allude to the degree of consternation and pain, with which he was
heard, or to the grief which succeeded.
"You spoke of yourself, dear Bob," said Maud, naturally, and with
strong feeling--"_You_ were not hurt, in this cruel, cruel
"I ought not to have mentioned it, although I did certainly receive a
smart contusion--nothing more, I assure you--here in the shoulder, and
it now scarcely inconveniences me."
By this time all were listening, curiosity and interest having silenced
even the disputants, especially as this was the first they had heard of
the major's casualty. Then neither felt the zeal which had warmed him
in the previous contest, but was better disposed to turn aside from its
"I hope it did not send you to the rear, Bob?" anxiously inquired the
"I _was_ in the rear, sir, when I got the hurt," answered the
major, laughing. "The rear is the post of honour, on a retreat, you
know, my dear father; and I believe our march scarce deserves another
"That is hard, too, on king's troops! What sort of fellows had you to
oppose, my son?"
"A rather intrusive set, sir. Their object was to persuade us to go
into Boston, as fast as possible; and, it was a little difficult, at
times, not to listen to their arguments. If my Lord Percy had not come
out, with a strong party, and two pieces of artillery, we might not
have stood it much longer. Our men were fagged like hunted deer, and
the day proved oppressively hot."
"Artillery, too!" exclaimed the captain, his military pride reviving a
little, to unsettle his last convictions of duty. "Did you open your
columns, and charge your enemies, in line?"
"It would have been charging air. No sooner did we halt, than our foes
dispersed; or, no sooner did we renew the march, than every line of
wall, along our route, became a line of hostile muskets. I trust you
will do us justice, sir--you know the regiments, and can scarce think
"British troops seldom do that; although I have known it happen. No
men, however, are usually more steady, and then these provincials are
formidable as skirmishers. In that character, I know _them_, too.
What has been the effect of all this on the country, Bob?--You told us
something of it last night; complete the history."
"The provinces are in a tumult. As for New England, a flame of fire
could scarce be more devastating; though I think this colony is less
excited. Still, here, men are arming in thousands."
"Dear me--dear me"--ejaculated the peacefully-inclined chaplain--"that
human beings can thus be inclined to self destruction!"
"Is Tryon active?--What do the royal authorities, all this time?"
"Of course they neglect nothing feasible; but, they must principally
rely on the loyalty and influence of the gentry, until succour can
arrive from Europe. If _that_ fail them, their difficulties will
be much increased."
Captain Willoughby understood his son; he glanced towards his
unconscious wife, as if to see how far she felt with him.
"Our own families are divided, of course, much as they have been in the
previous discussions," he added. "The De Lanceys, Van Cortlandts,
Philipses, Bayards, and most of that town connection, with a large
portion of the Long Island families, I should think, are with the
crown; while the Livingstons, Morrises, Schuylers, Rensselaers, and
their friends, go with the colony. Is not this the manner in which they
"With some limitations, sir. All the De Lanceys, with most of their
strong connections and influence, are with _us_--with the _king_,
I mean--while all the Livingstons and Morrises are against
us. The other families are divided--as with the Cortlandts, Schuylers,
and Rensselaers. It is fortunate for the Patroon, that he is a boy."
"Why so, Bob?" asked the captain, looking inquiringly up, at his son.
"Simply, sir, that his great estate may not be confiscated. So many of
his near connections are against us, that he could hardly escape the
contamination; and the consequences would be inevitable."
"Do you consider that so certain, sir? As there are two sides to the
question, may there not be two results to the war?"
"I think not, sir. England is no power to be defied by colonies
insignificant as these."
"This is well enough for a king's officer, major Willoughby; but all
large bodies of men are formidable when they are right, and nations--
these colonies are a nation, in extent and number--are not so easily
put down, when the spirit of liberty is up and doing among them."
The major listened to his father with pain and wonder. The captain
spoke earnestly, and there was a flush about his fine countenance, that
gave it sternness and authority. Unused to debate with his father,
especially when the latter was in such a mood, the son remained silent,
though his mother, who was thoroughly loyal in her heart--meaning loyal
as applied to a sovereign--and who had the utmost confidence in her
husband's tenderness and consideration for herself, was not so
"Why, Willoughby," she cried, "you really incline to rebellion! I, even
I, who was born in the colonies, think them very wrong to resist their
anointed king, and sovereign prince."
"Ah, Wilhelmina," answered the captain, more mildly, "you have a true
colonist's admiration of _home_. But I was old enough, when I left
England, to appreciate what I saw and knew, and cannot feel all this
"But surely, my dear captain, England is a very great country,"
interrupted the chaplain--"a prodigious country; one that can claim all
our respect and love. Look at the church, now, the purified
continuation of the ancient visible authority of Christ on earth! It is
the consideration of this church that has subdued my natural love of
birth-place, and altered my sentiments."
"All very true, and all very well, in _your_ mouth, chaplain; yet
even the visible church may err. This doctrine of divine right would
have kept the Stuarts on the throne, and it is not even English
doctrine; much less, then, need it be American. I am no Cromwellian, no
republican, that wishes to oppose the throne, in order to destroy it. A
good king is a good thing, and a prodigious blessing to a country;
still, a people needs look to its political privileges if it wish to
preserve them. You and I will discuss this matter another time, parson.
There will be plenty of opportunities," he added, rising, and smiling
good-humouredly; "I must, now, call my people together, and let them
know this news. It is not fair to conceal a civil war."
"My dear sir!" exclaimed the major, in concern--"are you not wrong?--
precipitate, I mean--Is it not better to preserve the secret, to give
yourself time for reflection--to await events?--I can discover no
necessity for this haste. Should you see things differently, hereafter,
an incautious word uttered at this moment might bring much motive for
"I have thought of all this, Bob, during the night--for hardly did I
close my eyes--and you cannot change my purpose. It is honest to let my
people know how matters stand; and, so far from being hazardous, as you
seem to think, I consider it wise. God knows what time will bring
forth; but, in every, or any event, fair-dealing can scarcely injure
him who practises it. I have already sent directions to have the whole
settlement collected on the lawn, at the ringing of the bell, and I
expect every moment we shall hear the summons."
Against this decision there was no appeal. Mild and indulgent as the
captain habitually was, his authority was not to be disputed, when he
chose to exercise it. Some doubts arose, and the father participated in
them, for a moment, as to what might be the effect on the major's
fortunes; for, should a very patriotic spirit arise among the men, two-
thirds of whom were native Americans, and what was more, from the
eastern colonies, he might be detained; or, at least, betrayed on his
return, and delivered into the hands of the revolted authorities. This
was a very serious consideration, and it detained the captain in the
house, some time after the people were assembled, debating the chances,
in the bosom of his own family.
"We exaggerate the danger," the captain, at length, exclaimed. "Most of
these men have been with me for years, and I know not one among them
who I think would wish to injure me, or even you, my son, in this way.
There is far more danger in attempting to deceive them, than in making
them confidants. I will go out and tell the truth; then we shall, at
least, have the security of self-approbation. If you escape the danger
of being sold by Nick, my son, I think you have little to fear from any
"By Nick!" repeated half-a-dozen voices, in surprise--Surely, father--
surely, Willoughby--surely, my dear captain, you cannot suspect as old
and tried a follower, as the Tuscarora!"
"Ay, he is an _old_ follower, certainly, and he has been
_punished_ often enough, if he has not been _tried_. I have
never suffered my distrust of that fellow to go to sleep--it is unsafe,
with an Indian, unless you have a strong hold on his gratitude."
"But, Willoughby, he it was who found this manor for us," rejoined the
wife. "Without him, we should never have been the owners of this lovely
place, this beaver-dam, and all else that we so much enjoy."
"True, my dear; and without good golden guineas, we should not have had
"But, sir, I pay as liberally as he can wish," observed the major. "If
bribes will buy him, mine are as good as another's."
"We shall see--under actual circumstances, I think we shall be, in
every respect, safer, by keeping nothing back, than by telling all to
The captain now put on his hat, and issued through the undefended
gateway, followed by every individual of his family. As the summons had
been general, when the Willoughbys and the chaplain appeared on the
lawn, every living soul of that isolated settlement, even to infants in
the arms, was collected there. The captain commanded the profound
respect of all his dependants, though a few among them did not love
him. The fault was not his, however, but was inherent rather in the
untoward characters of the disaffected themselves. His habits of
authority were unsuited to their habits of a presuming equality,
perhaps; and it is impossible for the comparatively powerful and
affluent to escape the envy and repinings of men, who, unable to draw
the real distinctions that separate the gentleman from the low-minded
and grovelling, impute their advantages to accidents and money. But,
even the few who permitted this malign and corrupting tendency to
influence their feelings, could not deny that their master was just and
benevolent, though he did not always exhibit this justice and
benevolence precisely in the way best calculated to soothe their own
craving self-love, and exaggerated notions of assumed natural claims.
In a word, captain Willoughby, in the eyes of a few unquiet and bloated
imaginations among his people, was obnoxious to the imputation of
pride; and this because he saw and felt the consequences of education,
habits, manners, opinions and sentiments that were hidden from those
who not only had no perception of their existence, but who had no
knowledge whatever of the qualities that brought them into being.
Pope's familiar line of "what can we reason but from what we know?" is
peculiarly applicable to persons of this class; who are ever for
dragging all things down to standards created by their own ignorance;
and who, slaves of the basest and meanest passions, reason as if they
were possessors of all the knowledge, sensibilities and refinements of
their own country and times. Of this class of men, comes the ordinary
demagogue, a wretch equally incapable of setting an example of any of
the higher qualities, in his own person or practice, and of
appreciating it when exhibited by others. Such men abound under all
systems where human liberty is highly privileged, being the moral
_fungi_ of freedom, as the rankest weeds are known to be the
troublesome and baneful productions of the richest soils.
It was no unusual thing for the people of the Hutted Knoll to be
collected, in the manner we have described. We are writing of a period,
that the present enlightened generation is apt to confound with the
darker ages of American knowledge, in much that relates to social
usages at least, though it escaped the long-buried wisdom of the Mormon
bible, and Miller's interpretations of the prophecies. In that day, men
were not so silly as to attempt to appear always wise; but some of the
fetes and festivals of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were still tolerated
among us; the all-absorbing and all-_swallowing_ jubilee of
"Independence-day" not having yet overshadowed everything else in the
shape of a holiday. Now, captain Willoughby had brought with him to the
colonies the love of festivals that is so much more prevalent in the
old world than in the new; and it was by no means an uncommon thing for
him to call his people together, to make merry on a birth-day, or the
anniversary of some battle in which he had been one of the victors.
When he appeared on the lawn, on the present occasion, therefore, it
was expected he was about to meet them with some such announcement.
The inhabitants of the manor, or the estate of the Hutted Knoll, might
be divided into three great physical, and we might add moral
categories, or races, viz: the Anglo-Saxon, the Dutch, both high and
low, and the African. The first was the most numerous, including the
families of the millers, most of the mechanics, and that of Joel
Strides, the land-overseer; the second was composed chiefly of
labourers; and the last were exclusively household servants, with the
exception of one of the Plinys, who was a ploughman, though permitted
to live with his kinsfolk in the Hut. These divisions, Maud, in one of
her merry humours, had nick-named the three tribes; while her father,
to make the enumeration complete, had classed the serjeant, Mike, and
Jamie Allen, as supernumeraries.
The three tribes, and the three supernumeraries, then, were all
collected on the lawn, as the captain and his family approached. By a
sort of secret instinct, too, they had divided themselves into knots,
the Dutch keeping a little aloof from the Yankees; and the blacks,
almost as a matter of religion, standing a short distance in the rear,
as became people of their colour, and slaves. Mike and Jamie, however,
had got a sort of neutral position, between the two great divisions of
the whites, as if equally indifferent to their dissensions or
antipathies. In this manner all parties stood, impatiently awaiting an
announcement that had been so long delayed. The captain advanced to the
front, and removing his hat, a ceremony he always observed on similar
occasions, and which had the effect to make his listeners imitate his
own courtesy, he addressed the crowd.
"When people live together, in a wilderness like this," commenced the
captain, "there ought to be no secrets between them, my friends, in
matters that touch the common interests. We are like men on a remote
island; a sort of colony of our own; and we must act fairly and frankly
by each other. In this spirit, then, I am now about to lay before you,
all that I know myself, concerning an affair of the last importance to
the colonies, and to the empire." Here Joel pricked up his ears, and
cast a knowing glance at 'the miller,' a countryman and early neighbour
of his own, who had charge of the grinding for the settlement, and who
went by that appellation '_par excellence_!' "You all know,"
continued the captain, "that there have been serious difficulties
between the colonies and parliament, now, for more than ten years;
difficulties that have been, once or twice, partially settled, but
which have as often broken out, in some new shape, as soon as an old
quarrel was adjusted."
Here the captain paused a moment; and Joel, who was the usual spokesman
of 'the people,' took an occasion to put a question.
"The captain means, I s'pose," he said, in a sly, half-honest, half-
jesuitical manner, "the right of parliament to tax us Americans,
without our own consent, or our having any members in their
"I mean what you say. The tax on tea, the shutting the port of Boston,
and other steps, have brought larger bodies of the king's troops among
us, than have been usual. Boston, as you probably know, has had a
strong garrison, now, for some months. About six weeks since, the
commander-in-chief sent a detachment out as far as Concord, in New
Hampshire, to destroy certain stores. This detachment had a meeting
with the minute-men, and blood was drawn. A running fight ensued, in
which several hundreds have been killed and wounded; and I think I know
both sides sufficiently well, to predict that a long and bloody civil
war is begun. These are facts you should know, and accordingly I tell
them to you."
This simple, but explicit, account was received very differently, by
the different listeners. Joel Strides leaned forward, with intense
interest, so as not to lose a syllable. Most of the New Englanders, or
Yankees, paid great attention, and exchanged meaning glances with each
other, when the captain had got through. As for Mike, he grasped a
shillelah that he habitually carried, when not at work, looking round,
as if waiting for orders from the captain, on whom to begin. Jamie was
thoughtful and grave, and, once or twice, as the captain proceeded, he
scratched his head in doubt. The Dutch seemed curious, but bewildered,
gaping at each other like men who might make up their minds, if you
would give them time, but who certainly had not yet. As for the blacks,
their eyes began to open like saucers, when they heard of the quarrel;
when it got to the blows, their mouths were all grinning with the
delight of a thing so exciting. At the mention of the number of the
dead, however, something like awe passed over them, and changed their
countenances to dismay. Nick alone was indifferent. By the cold apathy
of his manner, the captain saw at once that the battle of Lexington had
not been a secret to the Tuscarora, when he commenced his own account.
As the captain always encouraged a proper familiarity in his
dependants, he now told them he was ready to answer any questions they
might think expedient to put to him, in gratification of their natural
"I s'pose this news comes by the major?" asked Joel.
"You may well suppose that, Strides. My son is here, and we have no
other means of getting it."
"Will yer honour be wishful that we shoulther our fire-arms, and go out
and fight one of them sides, or t'other?" demanded Mike.
"I wish nothing of the sort, O'Hearn. It will be time enough for us to
take a decided part, when we get better ideas of what is really going
"Doesn't the captain, then, think matters have got far enough towards a
head, for the Americans to make up their minds conclusively, as it
might be?" put in Joel, in his very worst manner.
"I think it will be wiser for us all to remain where we are, and
_as_ we are. Civil war is a serious matter, Strides, And no man
should rush blindly into its dangers and difficulties."
Joel looked at the miller, and the miller looked at Joel. Neither said
anything, however, at the time. Jamie Allen had been _out_ in the
'forty-five,' when thirty years younger than he was that day; and
though he had his predilections and antipathies, circumstances had
taught him prudence.
"Will the parliament, think ye, no be bidding the soldiery to wark
their will on the puir unairmed folk, up and down the country, and they
not provided with the means to resist them?"
"Och, Jamie!" interrupted Mike, who did not appear to deem it necessary
to treat this matter with even decent respect--"where will be yer
valour and stomach, to ask sich a question as _that_! A man is
always reathy, when he has his ar-r-ms and legs free to act accorthing
to natur'. What would a rigiment of throops do ag'in the likes of sich
a place as this? I'm sure it's tin years I've been _in_ it, and
I've niver been able to find my way _out_ of it. Set a souldier to
rowing on the lake forenent the rising sun, with orders to get to the
other ind, and a pretty job he 'd make of marching on that same! I
knows it, for I've thried it, and it is not a new beginner that will
make much of _sich_ oare; barring he knows nothin' about them."
This was not very intelligible to anybody but Joel, and _he_ had
ceased to laugh at Mike's voyage, now, some six or seven years; divers
other disasters, all having their origin in a similar confusion of
ideas, having, in the interval, supplanted that calamity, as it might
be, _seriatim_. Still it was an indication that Mike might be set
down as a belligerent, who was disposed to follow his leader into the
battle, without troubling him with many questions concerning the merits
of the quarrel. Nevertheless, the county Leitrim-man acknowledged
particular principles, all of which had a certain influence on his
conduct, whenever he could get at them, to render them available. First
and foremost, he cordially disliked a Yankee; and he hated an
Englishman, both as an oppressor and a heretic; yet he loved his master
and all that belonged to him. These were contradictory feelings,
certainly; but Mike was all contradiction, both in theory and in
The Anglo-Saxon tribe now professed a willingness to retire, promising
to _think of the matter_, a course against which Mike loudly
protested, declaring he never knew any good come of thinking, when
matters had got as far as blows. Jamie, too, went off scratching his
head, and he was seen to make many pauses, that day, between the
shovels-full of earth he, from time to time, threw around his plants,
as if pondering on what he had heard. As for the Dutch, their hour had
not come. No one expected them to decide the day they first heard of
The negroes got together, and began to dwell on the marvels of a battle
in which so many Christians had been put to death. Little Smash placed
the slain at a few thousands; but Great Smash, as better became her
loftier appellation and higher spirit, affirmed that the captain had
stated _hundreds_ of thousands; a loss, with less than which, as
she contended, no great battle could possibly be fought.
When the captain was housed, Serjeant Joyce demanded an audience; the
object of which was simply to ask for _orders_, without the least
reference to _principles_.
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