James Fenimore Cooper
Part 3 out of 9
We are all here!
All who hold each other dear.
Each chair is fill'd--we're all _at home_;
To-night let no cold stranger come:
It is not often thus around
Our old familiar hearth we're found:
Bless, then, the meeting and the spot;
For once be every care forgot;
Let gentle Peace assert her power,
And kind Affection rule the hour;
We're all--all here.
Although most of the people retired to their dwellings, or their
labours, as soon as the captain dismissed them, a few remained to
receive his farther orders. Among these last were Joel, the carpenter,
and the blacksmith. These men now joined the chief of the settlement
and his son, who had lingered near the gateway, in conversation
concerning the alterations that the present state of things might
render necessary, in and about the Hut.
"Joel," observed the captain, when the three men were near enough to
hear his orders, "this great change in the times will render some
changes in our means of defence prudent, if not necessary."
"Does the captain s'pose the people of the colony will attack _us_?"
asked the wily overseer, with emphasis.
"Perhaps not the people of the colony, Mr. Strides, for we have not
_yet_ declared ourselves their enemies; but there are other foes, who
are more to be apprehended than the people of the colony."
"I should think the king's troops not likely to trouble themselves to
ventur' here--the road might prove easier to come than to return.
Besides, our plunder would scarce pay for such a march."
"Perhaps not--but there never has yet been a war in these colonies that
some of the savage tribes were not engaged in it, before the whites had
fairly got themselves into line."
"Do you really think, sir, there can be much serious danger of
_that_!" exclaimed the major, in surprise.
"Beyond a question, my son. The scalping-knife will be at work in six
months, if it be not busy already, should one-half of your reports and
rumours turn out to be true. Such is American history."
"I rather think, sir, your apprehensions for my mother and sisters may
mislead you. I do not believe the American authorities will ever allow
themselves to be driven into a measure so perfectly horrible and
unjustifiable; and were the English ministry sufficiently cruel, or
unprincipled, to adopt the policy, the honest indignation of so humane
a people would be certain to drive them from power."
As the major ceased speaking, he turned and caught the expression of
Joel's countenance, and was struck with the look of intense interest
with which the overseer watched his own warm and sincere manner.
"Humanity is a very pretty stalking-horse for political orations, Bob,"
quietly returned the father; "but it will scarcely count for much with
an old campaigner. God send you may come out of this war with the same
ingenuous and natural feelings as you go into it."
"The major will scarce dread the savages, should he be on the side of
his nat'ral friends!" remarked Joel; "and if what he says about the
humanity of the king's advisers be true, he will be safe from _them_."
"The major will be on the side to which duty calls him, Mr. Strides, if
it may be agreeable to your views of the matter," answered the young
man, with a little more _hauteur_ than the occasion required.
The father felt uneasy, and he regretted that his son had been so
indiscreet; though he saw no remedy but by drawing the attention of the
men to the matter before them.
"Neither the real wishes of the people of America, nor of the people of
England, will avail much, in carrying on this war," he said. "Its
conduct will fall into the hands of those who will look more to the
ends than to the means; and success will be found a sufficient apology
for any wrong. This has been the history of all the wars of my time,
and it is likely to prove the history of this. I fear it will make
little difference to us on which side we may be in feeling; there will
be savages to guard against in either case. This gate must be hung, one
of the first things, Joel; and I have serious thoughts of placing
palisades around the Knoll. The Hut, well palisaded, would make a work
that could not be easily carried, without artillery."
Joel seemed struck with the idea, though it did not appear that it was
favourably. He stood studying the house and the massive gates for a
minute or two, ere he delivered his sentiments on the subject. When he
did speak, it was a good deal more in doubt, than in approbation.
"It's all very true, captain," he said; the house would _seem_ to
be a good deal more safe like, if the gates were up; but, a body don't
know; sometimes gates be a security, and sometimes they isn't. It all
depends on which side the danger comes. Still, as these are _made_,
and finished all to hanging, it's 'most a pity, too, they
shouldn't be used, if a body could find _time_."
"The time _must_ be found, and the gates be hung," interrupted the
captain, too much accustomed to Joel's doubting, 'sort-o'-concluding
manner, to be always patient under the infliction. "Not only the gates,
but the palisades must be got out, holes dug, and the circumvallation
"It must be as the captain says, of course, he being master here. But
time's precious in May. There's half our plantin' to be done yet, and
some of the ground hasn't got the last ploughin'. Harvest won't come
without seed-time; for no man, let him be great, or let him be small--
and it does seem to me a sort o' wastin' of the Lord's blessin's, to be
hangin' gates, and diggin' holes for that--the thing the captain
mentioned--when there's no visible danger in sight to recommend the
measure to prudence, as it might be."
"That may be your opinion, Mr. Strides, but it is not mine. I intend to
guard against a visible danger that is _out_ of sight, and I will
thank you to have these gates hung, this very day."
"This very day!--The captain's a mind to be musical about the matter!
Every hand in the settlement couldn't get them gates in their places in
less than a week."
"It appears to me, Strides, you are 'playing on the music,' as you call
it, yourself, now?"
"No, indeed, captain; them gates will have to be hung on the mechanic
principle; and it will take at least two or three days for the
carpenter and blacksmith to get up the works that's to do it. Then the
hanging, itself, I should think would stand us in hand a day for each
side. As for the circumvalley, what between the cuttin', and haulin',
and diggin', and settin', that would occupy all hands until after first
hoein'. That is, hoein' would come afore the plantin'."
"It does not appear to me, Bob, such a heavy job as Joel represents!
The gates are heavy, certainly, and may take us a day or two; but, as
for stockading--I've seen barracks stockaded in, in a week, if I
remember right. You know something of this--what is your opinion?"
"That this house can be stockaded in, in the time you mention; and, as
I have a strong reluctance to leave the family before it is in
security, with your permission I will remain and superintend the work."
The offer was gladly accepted, on more accounts than one; and the
captain, accustomed to be obeyed when he was in earnest, issued his
orders forthwith, to let the work proceed. Joel, however, was excused,
in order that he might finish the planting he had commenced, and which
a very few hands could complete within the required time. As no ditch
was necessary, the work was of a very simple nature, and the major set
about his portion of it without even re-entering the house.
The first thing was to draw a line for a trench some six or seven feet
deep, that was to encircle the whole building, at a distance of about
thirty yards from the house. This line ran, on each side of the Hut, on
the very verge of the declivities, rendering the flanks far more secure
than the front, where it crossed the lawn on a gently inclining
surface. In one hour the major had traced this lines with accuracy; and
he had six or eight men at work with spades, digging the trench. A gang
of hands was sent into the woods, with orders to cut the requisite
quantify of young chestnuts; and, by noon, a load of the material
actually appeared on the ground. Still, nothing was done to the gates.
To own the truth, the captain was now delighted. The scene reminded him
of some in his military life, and he bustled about, giving his orders,
with a good deal of the fire of youth renewed, taking care, however, in
no manner to interfere with the plans of his son. Mike buried himself
like a mole, and had actually advanced several feet, before either of
the Yankees had got even a fair footing on the bottom of his part of
the trench. As for Jamie Allen, he went to work with deliberation; but
it was not long before his naked gray hairs were seen on a level with
the surface of the ground. The digging was not hard, though a little
stony, and the work proceeded with spirit and success. All that day,
and the next, and the next, and the next, the Knoll appeared alive,
earth being cast upward, teams moving, carpenters sawing, and labourers
toiling. Many of the men protested that their work was useless,
unnecessary, _unlawful_ even; but no one dared hesitate under the
eyes of the major, when his father had once issued a serious command.
In the mean time, Joel's planting was finished, though he made many
long pauses while at work on the flats, to look up and gaze at the
scene of activity and bustle that was presented at the Knoll. On the
fourth day, towards evening, he was obliged to join the general "bee,"
with the few hands he had retained with himself.
By this time, the trench was dug, most of the timber was prepared, and
the business of setting up the stockade was commenced. Each young tree
was cut to the length of twenty feet, and pointed at one end. Mortices,
to receive cross-pieces, were cut at proper distances, and holes were
bored to admit the pins. This was all the preparation, and the timbers
were set in the trench, pointed ends uppermost. When a sufficient
number were thus arranged, a few inches from each other, the cross-
pieces were pinned on, bringing the whole into a single connected
frame, or bent. The bent was then raised to a perpendicular, and
secured, by pounding the earth around the lower ends of the timbers.
The latter process required care and judgment, and it was entrusted to
the especial supervision of the deliberate Jamie, the major having
discovered that the Yankees, in general, were too impatient to get on,
and to make a show. Serjeant Joyce was particularly useful in dressing
the rows of timber, and in giving the whole arrangement a military air.
"_Guid_ wark is far better than _quick_ wark," observed the
cool-headed Scotchman, as he moved about among the men, "and it's no
the fuss and bustle of acteevity that is to give the captain pleasure.
The thing that is well done, is done with the least noise and
confusion. Set the stockades mair pairpendic'lar, my men."
"Ay--dress them, too, my lads"--added the venerable ex-serjeant.
"This is queer plantin', Jamie," put in Joel, "and queerer grain will
come of it. Do you think these young chestnuts will ever grow, ag'in,
that you put them out in rows, like so much corn?"
"Now it's no for the growth we does it, Joel, but to presairve the
human growth we have. To keep the savage bairbers o' the wilderness
fra' clippin' our polls before the shearin' time o' natur' has gathered
us a' in for the hairvest of etairnity. They that no like the safety
we're makin' for them, can gang their way to 'ither places, where they
'11 find no forts, or stockades to trouble their een."
"I'm not critical at all, Jamie, though to my notion a much better use
for your timber plantation would be to turn it into sheds for cattle,
in the winter months. I can see some good in _that_, but none in
"Bad luck to ye, then, Misther Sthroddle," cried Mike, from the bottom
of the trench, where he was using a pounding instrument with the zeal
of a paviour--"Bad luck to the likes of ye, say I, Misther Strides. If
ye've no relish for a fortification, in a time of war, ye've only to
shoulther yer knapsack, and go out into the open counthry, where ye'll
have all to yer own satisfaction. Is it forthify the house, will we?
That we will, and not a hair of the missuss's head, nor of the young
ladies' heads, nor of the masther's head, though he's mighty bald as it
is, but not a hair of _all_ their heads shall be harmed, while
Jamie, and Mike, and the bould ould serjeant, here, can have their way.
I wish I had the trench full of yer savages, and a gineral funeral we'd
make of the vagabonds! Och! They're the divil's imps, I hear from all
sides, and no love do I owe them."
"And yet you're the bosom friend of Nick, who's anything but what I
call a specimen of his people."
"Is it Nick ye 're afther? Well, Nick's half-civilized accorthin' to
yer Yankee manners, and he's no spicimen, at all. Let him hear you call
him by sich a name, if ye want throuble."
Joel walked away, muttering, leaving the labourers in doubt whether he
relished least the work he was now obliged to unite in furthering, or
Mike's hit at his own peculiar people. Still the work proceeded, and in
one week from the day it was commenced, the stockade was complete, its
gate excepted. The entrance through the palisades was directly in front
of that to the house, and both passages still remained open, one set of
gates not being completed, and the other not yet being hung.
It was on a Saturday evening when the last palisade was placed firmly
in the ground, and all the signs of the recent labour were removed, in
order to restore as much of the former beauty of the Knoll as possible.
It had been a busy week; so much so, indeed, as to prevent the major
from holding any of that confidential intercourse with his mother and
sisters, in which it had been his habit to indulge in former visits.
The fatigues of the days sent everybody to their pillows early; and the
snatches of discourse which passed, had been affectionate and pleasant,
rather than communicative. Now that the principal job was so near being
finished, however, and the rubbish was cleared away, the captain
summoned the family to the lawn again, to enjoy a delicious evening
near the close of the winning month of May. The season was early, and
the weather more bland, than was usual, even in that sheltered and
genial valley. For the first time that year, Mrs. Willoughby consented
to order the tea-equipage to be carried to a permanent table that had
been placed under the shade of a fine elm, in readiness for any _fete
champetre_ of this simple character.
"Come, Wilhelmina, give us a cup of your fragrant hyson, of which we
have luckily abundance, tax or no tax. I should lose _caste_, were
it known how much American treason we have gulped down, in this way;
but, a little tea, up here in the forest, can do no man's conscience
any great violence, in the long run. I suppose, major Willoughby, His
Majesty's forces do not disdain tea, in these stirring times."
"Far from it, sir; we deem it so loyal to drink it, that it is said the
port and sherry of the different messes, at Boston, are getting to be
much neglected. I am an admirer of tea, for itself, however, caring
little about its collateral qualities. Farrel"--turning to his man, who
was aiding Pliny the elder, in arranging the table--"when you are
through here, bring out the basket you will find on the toilet, in my
"True, Bob," observed the mother, smiling--"that basket has scarce been
treated with civility. Not a syllable of thanks have I heard, for all
the fine things it contains."
"My mind has been occupied with care for your safety, dear mother, and
that must be my excuse. Now, however, there is an appearance of
security which gives one a breathing-time, and my gratitude receives a
sudden impulse. As for you, Maud, I regret to be compelled to say that
you stand convicted of laziness; not a single thing do I owe to your
labours, or recollection of me."
"Is that possible!" exclaimed the captain, who was pouring water into
the tea-pot. "Maud is the last person I should suspect of neglect of
this nature; I do assure you, Bob, no one listens to news of your
promotions and movements with more interest than Maud."
Maud, herself, made no answer. She bent her head aside, in a secret
consciousness that her sister might alone detect, and form her own
conclusions concerning the colour that she felt warming her cheeks.
But, Maud's own sensitive feelings attributed more to Beulah than the
sincere and simple-minded girl deserved. So completely was she
accustomed to regard Robert and Maud as brother and sister, that even
all which had passed produced no effect in unsettling her opinions, or
in giving her thoughts a new direction. Just at this moment Farrel came
back, and placed the basket on the bench, at the side of his master.
"Now, my dearest mother, and you, girls"--the major had begun to drop
the use of the word 'sisters' when addressing _both_ the young
ladies--"Now, my dearest mother, and you, girls, I am about to give
each her due. In the first place, I confess my own unworthiness, and
acknowledge, that I do not deserve one-half the kind attention I have
received in these various presents, after which we will descend to
The major, then, exposed every article contained in the basket, finding
the words "mother" and "Beulah" pinned on each, but nowhere any
indication that his younger sister had even borne him in mind. His
father looked surprised at this, not to say a little grave; and he
waited, with evident curiosity, for the gifts of Maud, as one thing
after another came up, without any signs of her having recollected the
"This is odd, truly," observed the father, seriously; "I hope, Bob, you
have done nothing to deserve this? I should be sorry to have my little
"I assure you, sir, that I am altogether ignorant of any act, and I can
solemnly protest against any intention, to give offence. If guilty, I
now pray Maud to pardon me."
"You have done nothing, Bob--_said_ nothing, Bob--_thought_
nothing to offend me," cried Maud, eagerly.
"Why, then, have you forgotten him, darling, when your mother and
sister have done so much in the way of recollection?" asked the
"Forced gifts, my dear father, are no gifts. I do not like to be
compelled to make presents."
This was uttered in a way to induce the major to throw all the articles
back into the basket, as if he wished to get rid of the subject,
without further comment. Owing to this precipitation, the scarf was not
seen. Fortunately for Maud, who was ready to burst into tears, the
service of the tea prevented any farther allusion to the matter.
"You have told me, major," observed captain Willoughby, "that your old
regiment has a new colonel; but you have forgotten to mention his name.
I hope it is my old messmate, Tom Wallingford, who wrote me he had some
such hopes last year."
"General Wallingford has got a light-dragoon regiment--general Meredith
has my old corps; he is now in this country, at the head of one of
It is a strong proof of the manner in which Maud--Maud Willoughby, as
she was ever termed--had become identified with the family of the
Hutted Knoll, that, with two exceptions, not a person present thought
of her, when the name of this general Meredith was mentioned; though,
in truth, he was the uncle of her late father. The exceptions were the
major and herself. The former now never heard the name without thinking
of his beautiful little playfellow, and nominal sister; while Maud, of
late, had become curious and even anxious on the subject of her natural
relatives. Still, a feeling akin to awe, a sentiment that appeared as
if it would be doing violence to a most solemn duty, prevented her from
making any allusion to her change of thought, in the presence of those
whom, during childhood, she had viewed only as her nearest relatives,
and who still continued so to regard her. She would have given the
world to ask Bob a few questions concerning the kinsman he had
mentioned, but could not think of doing so before her mother, whatever
she might be induced to attempt with the young man, when by himself.
Nick next came strolling along, gazing at the stockade, and drawing
near the table with an indifference to persons and things that
characterized his habits. When close to the party he stopped, keeping
his eye on the recent works.
"You see, Nick, I am about to turn soldier again, in my old days,"
observed the captain. "It is now many years since you and I have met
within a line of palisades. How do you like our work?"
"What you make him for, cap'in?"
"So as to be secure against any red-skins who may happen to long for
"Why want _your_ scalp? Hatchet hasn't been dug up, atween us--
bury him so deep can't find him in ten, two, six year."
"Ay, it has long been buried, it is true; but you red gentlemen have a
trick of digging it up, with great readiness, when there is any
occasion for it. I suppose you know, Nick, that there are troubles in
"Tell Nick all about him,"--answered the Indian, evasively--"No read--
no hear--don't talk much--talk most wid Irisher--can't understand what
he want--say t'ing one way, den say him, anoder."
"Mike is not very lucid of a certainty," rejoined the captain,
laughing, all the party joining in the merriment--"but he is a sterling
good fellow, and is always to be found, in a time of need."
"Poor rifle--nebber hit--shoot one way, look t'other?"
"He is no great shot, I will admit; but he is a famous fellow with a
shillaleh. Has he given you any of the news?"
"All he say, news--much news ten time, as one time. Cap'in lend Nick a
quarter dollar, yesterday."
"I did lend you a quarter, certainly, Nick; and I supposed it had gone
to the miller for rum, before this. What am I to understand by your
holding it out in this manner?--that you mean to repay me!"
"Sartain--good quarter--just like him cap'in lent Nick. Like as one
pea. Nick man of honour; keep his word."
"This does look more like it than common, Nick. The money was to be
returned to-day, but I did not expect to see it, so many previous
contracts of that nature having been vacated, as the lawyers call it."
"Tuscarora chief alway gentleman. What he say, he do. Good quarter
dollar, dat, cap'in?"
"It is unexceptionable, old acquaintance; I'll not disdain receiving
it, as it may serve for a future loan."
"No need bye'm-by--take him, now--cap'in, lend Nick dollar; pay him to-
The captain protested against the _sequitur_ that the Indian
evidently wished to establish; declining, though in a good-natured
manner, to lend the larger sum. Nick was disappointed, and walked
sullenly away, moving nearer to the stockade, with the air of an
"That is an extraordinary fellow, sir!" observed the major--"I really
wonder you tolerate him so much about the Hut. It might be a good idea
to banish him, now that the war has broken out."
"Which would be a thing more easily said than done. A drop of water
might as readily be banished from that stream, as an Indian, from any
part of the forest he may choose to visit. You brought him here
yourself, Bob, and should not blame us for tolerating his presence."
"I brought him, sir, because I found he recognised me even in this
dress, and it was wise to make a friend of him. Then I wanted a guide,
and I was well assured he knew the way, if any man did. He is a surly
scoundrel, however, and appears to have changed his character, since I
was a boy."
"If there be any change, Bob, it is in yourself. Nick has been Nick
these thirty years, or as long as I have known him. Rascal he is, or
his tribe would not have cast him out. Indian justice is stern, but it
is natural justice. No man is ever put to the ban among the red men,
until they are satisfied he is not fit to enjoy savage rights. In
garrison, we always looked upon Nick as a clever knave, and treated him
accordingly. When one is on his guard against such a fellow, he can do
little harm, and this Tuscarora has a salutary dread of me, which keeps
him in tolerable order, during his visits to the Hut. The principal
mischief he does here, is to get Mike and Jamie deeper in the Santa
Cruz than I could wish; but the miller has his orders to sell no more
"I hardly think you do Nick justice, Willoughby," observed the right-
judging and gentle wife. "He has _some_ good qualities; but you
soldiers always apply martial-law to the weaknesses of your fellow-
"And you tender-hearted women, my dear Wilhelmina, think everybody as
good as yourselves."
"Remember, Hugh, when your son, there, had the canker-rash, how
actively and readily the Tuscarora went into the forest to look for the
gold-thread that even the doctors admitted cured him. It was difficult
to find, Robert; but Nick remembered a spot where he had seen it, fifty
miles off; and, without a request even, from us, he travelled that
distance to procure it."
"Yes, this is true"--returned the captain, thoughtfully--"though I
question if the cure was owing to the gold-thread, as you call it,
Wilhelmina. Every man has some good quality or other; and, I much fear,
some bad ones also.--But, here is the fellow coming back, and I do not
like to let him think himself of sufficient consequence to be the
subject of our remarks."
"Very true, sir--it adds excessively to the trouble of such fellows, to
let them fancy themselves of importance."
Nick, now, came slowly back, after having examined the recent changes
to his satisfaction. He stood a moment in silence, near the table, and
then, assuming an air of more dignity than common, he addressed the
"Nick ole _chief_" he said. "Been at Council Fire, often as
cap'in. Can't tell, all he know; want to hear about new war."
"Why, Nick, it is a family quarrel, this time. The French have nothing
to do with it."
"Yengeese fight Yengeese--um?"
"I am afraid it will so turn out. Do not the Tuscaroras sometimes dig
up the hatchet against the Tuscaroras?"
"Tuscarora man kill Tuscarora man--good--he quarrel, and kill he enemy.
But Tuscarora warrior nebber take scalp of Tuscarora squaw and
pappoose! What you t'ink he do dat for? Red man no hog, to eat pork."
"It must be admitted, Nick, you are a very literal logician--'dog won't
eat dog,' is our English saying. Still the _Yankee_ will fight the
Yengeese, it would seem. In a word, the Great Father, in England, has
raised the hatchet against his American children."
"How you like him, cap'in--um? Which go on straight path, which go on
crooked? How you like him?"
"I like it little, Nick, and wish with all my heart the quarrel had not
"Mean to put on regimentals--hah! Mean to be cap'in, ag'in? Follow drum
and fife, like ole time?"
"I rather think not, old comrade. After sixty, one likes peace better
than war; and I intend to stay at home."
"What for, den, build fort? Why you put fence round a house, like pound
"Because I intend to _stay_ there. The stockade will be good to
keep off any, or every enemy who may take it into their heads to come
against us. You have known me defend a worse position than this."
"He got no gate," muttered Nick--"What he good for, widout gate?
Yengeese, Yankees, red man, French man, walk in just as he please. No
good to leave such squaw wid a door wide open."
"Thank you, Nick," cried Mrs. Willoughby. "I knew you were _my_
friend, and have not forgotten the gold-thread."
"He _very_ good," answered the Indian, with an important look.
"Pappoose get well like not'ing. He a'most die, to-day; to-morrow he
run about and play. Nick do him, too; cure him wid gold-thread."
"Oh! you are, or were quite a physician at one time, Nick. I remember
when you had the smallpox, yourself."
The Indian turned, with the quickness of lightning, to Mrs. Willoughby,
whom he startled with his energy, as he demanded--
"You remember dat, Mrs. cap'in! Who gib him--who cure him--um?"
"Upon my word, Nick, you almost frighten me. I fear I gave you the
disease, but it was for your own good it was done. You were inoculated
by myself, when the soldiers were dying around us, because they had
never had that care taken of them. All I inoculated lived; yourself
among the number."
The startling expression passed away from the fierce countenance of the
savage, leaving in its place another so kind and amicable as to prove
he not only was aware of the benefit he had received, but that he was
deeply grateful for it. He drew near to Mrs. Willoughby, took her still
white and soft hand in his own sinewy and dark fingers, then dropped
the blanket that he had thrown carelessly across his body, from a
shoulder, and laid it on a mark left by the disease, by way of pointing
to her good work. He smiled, as this was done.
"Ole mark," he said, nodding his head--"sign we good friend--he nebber
go away while Nick live."
This touched the captain's heart, and he tossed a dollar towards the
Indian, who suffered it, however, to lie at his feet unnoticed. Turning
to the stockade, he pointed significantly at the open gateways.
"Great danger go t'rough little 'ole," he said, sententiously, walking
away as he concluded. "Why you leave big 'ole open?"
"We _must_ get those gates hung next week," said the captain,
positively; "and yet it is almost absurd to apprehend anything serious
in this remote settlement, and that at so early a period in the war."
Nothing further passed on the lawn worthy to be recorded. The sun set,
and the family withdrew into the house, as usual, to trust to the
overseeing care of Divine Providence, throughout a night passed in a
wilderness. By common consent, the discourse turned upon things noway
connected with the civil war, or its expected results, until the party
was about to separate for the night, when the major found himself alone
with his sisters, in his own little parlour, dressing-room, or study,
whatever the room adjoining his chamber could properly be called.
"You will not leave us soon, Robert," said Beulah, taking her brother's
hand, with confiding affection, "I hardly think my father young and
active enough, or rather _alarmed_ enough, to live in times like
"He is a soldier, Beulah, and a good one; so good that his son can
teach him nothing. I wish I could say that he is as good a
_subject_: I fear he leans to the side of the colonies."
"Heaven be praised!" exclaimed Beulah--"Oh! that his son would incline
in the same direction."
"Nay, Beulah," rejoined Maud, reproachfully; "you speak without
reflection. Mamma bitterly regrets that papa sees things in the light
he does. _She_ thinks the parliament right, and the colonies
"What a thing is a civil war!" ejaculated the major--"Here is husband
divided against wife--son against father--brother against sister. I
could almost wish I were dead, ere I had lived to see this!"
"Nay, Robert, it is not so bad as that, either," added Maud. "My mother
will never oppose my father's will or judgment. Good wives, you know,
never do _that_. She will only pray that he may decide right, and
in a way that his children will never have cause to regret. As for me,
I count for nothing, of course."
"And Beulah, Maud; is she nothing, too? Here will Beulah be praying for
her brother's defeat, throughout this war. It has been some
presentiment of this difference of opinion that has probably induced
you to forget me, while Beulah and my mother were passing so many hours
to fill that basket."
"Perhaps you do Maud injustice, Robert," said Beulah, smiling. "I think
I can say none loves you better than our dear sister--or no one has
thought of you more, in your absence."
"Why, then, does the basket contain no proof of this remembrance--not
even a chain of hair--a purse, or a ring--nothing, in short, to show
that I have not been forgotten, when away."
"Even if this be so," said Maud, with spirit, "in what am I worse than
yourself. What proof is there that you have remembered _us?_"
"This," answered the major, laying before his sisters two small
packages, each marked with the name of its proper owner. "My mother has
her's, too, and my father has not been forgotten."
Beulah's exclamations proved how much she was gratified with her
presents; principally trinkets and jewelry, suited to her years and
station. First kissing the major, she declared her mother must see what
she had received, before she retired for the night, and hurried from
the room. That Maud was not less pleased, was apparent by her glowing
cheeks and tearful eyes; though, for a wonder, she was far more
restrained in the expression of her feelings. After examining the
different articles, with pleasure, for a minute or two, she went, with
a quick impetuous movement, to the basket, tumbled all its contents on
the table, until she reached the scarf, which she tossed towards the
major, saying, with a faint laugh--
"There, unbeliever--heathen--is _that_ nothing? Was that made in a
minute, think you?"
"_This!_" cried the major, opening the beautiful, glossy fabric in
surprise. "Is not this one of my father's old sashes, to which I have
fallen heir, in the order of nature?"
Maud dropped her trinkets, and seizing two corners of the sash, she
opened it, in a way to exhibit its freshness and beauty.
"Is this _old_, or _worn?_" she asked, reproachfully. "Your
father never even saw it, Bob. It has not yet been around the waist of
"It is not possible!--This would be the work of months--is _so_
beautiful--you cannot have purchased it."
Maud appeared distressed at his doubts. Opening the folds still wider,
she raised the centre of the silk to the light, pointed to certain
letters that had been wrought into the fabric, so ingeniously as to
escape ordinary observation, and yet so plainly as to be distinctly
legible when the attention was once drawn to them. The major took the
sash into his own hands altogether, held it opened before the candles,
and read the words "Maud Meredith" aloud. Dropping the sash, he turned
to seek the face of the donor, but she had fled the room. He followed
her footsteps and entered the library, just as she was about to escape
from it, by a different door.
"I am offended at your incredulity," said Maud, making an effort to
laugh away the scene, "and will not remain to hear lame excuses. Your
new regiment can have no nature in it, or brothers would not treat
"Maud _Meredith_ is not my sister," he said, earnestly, "though
Maud _Willoughby_ may be. Why is the name Meredith?"
"As a retort to one of your own allusions--did you not call me Miss
Meredith, one day, when I last saw you in Albany?"
"Ay, but that was in jest, my dearest Maud. It was not a deliberate
thing, like the name on that sash."
"Oh! jokes may be premeditated as well as murder; and many a one _is_
murdered, you know. Mine is a prolonged jest."
"Tell me, does my mother--does Beulah know who made this sash?"
"How else could it have been made, Bob? Do you think I went into the
woods, and worked by myself, like some romantic damsel who had an
unmeaning secret to keep against the curious eyes of persecuting
"I know not what I thought--scarce know what I think now. But, my
mother; does she know of this _name_?"
Maud blushed to the eyes; but the habit and the love of truth were so
strong in her, that she shook her head in the negative.
"Nor Beulah?--_She_, I am certain, would not have permitted
'Meredith' to appear where 'Willoughby' should have been."
"Nor Beulah, either, major Willoughby," pronouncing the name with an
affectation of reverence. "The honour of the Willoughbys is thus
preserved from every taint, and all the blame must fall on poor Maud
"You dislike the name of Willoughby, then, and intend to drop it, in
future--I have remarked that you sign yourself only 'Maud,' in your
last letters--never before, however, did I suspect the reason."
"Who wishes to live for ever an impostor? It is not my legal name, and
I shall soon be called on to perform legal acts. Remember, Mr. Robert
Willoughby, I am twenty; when it comes to pounds, shillings, and pence,
I must not forge. A little habit is necessary to teach me the use of my
own _bona fide_ signature."
"But ours--the name is not hateful to you--you do not throw it aside,
seriously, for ever!"
"_Yours_! What, the honoured name of my dear, dearest father--of
my mother--of Beulah--of yourself, Bob!"
Maud did not remain to terminate her speech. Bursting into tears, she
The village tower--'tis joy to me!--I cry, the Lord is here!
The village bells! They fill the soul with ecstasy sincere.
And thus, I sing, the light hath shined to lands in darkness hurled,
Their sound is now in all the earth, their words throughout the world.
Another night past in peace within the settlement of the Hutted Knoll.
The following morning was the Sabbath, and it came forth, balmy,
genial, and mild; worthy of the great festival of the Christian world.
On the subject of religion, captain Willoughby was a little of a
martinet; understanding by liberty of conscience, the right of
improving by the instruction of those ministers who belonged to the
church of England. Several of his labourers had left him because he
refused to allow of any other ministrations on his estate; his doctrine
being that every man had a right to do as he pleased in such matters;
and as he did not choose to allow of schism, within the sphere of his
own influence, if others desired to be schismatics they were at liberty
to go elsewhere, in order to indulge their tastes. Joel Strides and
Jamie Allen were both disaffected to this sort of orthodoxy, and they
had frequent private discussions on its propriety; the former in his
usual wily and jesuitical mode of sneering and insinuating, and the
latter respectfully as related to his master, but earnestly as it
concerned his conscience. Others, too, were dissentients, but with less
repining; though occasionally they would stay away from Mr. Wood's
services. Mike, alone, took an open and manly stand in the matter, and
he a little out-Heroded Herod; or, in other words, he exceeded the
captain himself in strictness of construction. On the very morning we
have just described, he was present at a discussion between the Yankee
overseer and the Scotch mason, in which these two dissenters, the first
a congregationalist, and the last a seceder, were complaining of the
hardships of a ten years' abstinence, during which no spiritual
provender had been fed out to them from a proper source. The Irishman
broke out upon the complainants in a way that will at once let the
reader into the secret of the county Leitrim-man's principles, if he
has any desire to know them.
"Bad luck to all sorts of religion but the right one!" cried Mike, in a
most tolerant spirit. "Who d'ye think will be wishful of hearing mass
and pr'aching that comes from _any_ of your heretick parsons?
Ye're as dape in the mire yerselves, as Mr. Woods is in the woods, and
no one to lade ye out of either, but an evil spirit that would rather
see all mankind br'iling in agony, than dancing at a fair."
"Go to your confessional, Mike," returned Joel, with a sneer--"It's a
month, or more, sin' you seen it, and the priest will think you have
forgotten him, and go away offended."
"Och! It's such a praist, as the likes of yees has no nade of
throubling! Yer conscience is aisy, Misther Straddle, so that yer belly
is filled, and yer wages is paid. Bad luck o sich religion!"
The allusion of Joel related to a practice of Michael's that is
deserving of notice. It seems that the poor fellow, excluded by his
insulated position from any communication with a priest of his own
church, was in the habit of resorting to a particular rock in the
forest, where he would kneel and acknowledge his sins, very much as he
would have done had the rock been a confessional containing one
authorized to grant him absolution. Accident revealed the secret, and
from that time Michael's devotion was a standing jest among the
dissenters of the valley. The county Leitrim-man was certainly a little
too much addicted to Santa Cruz, and he was accused of always visiting
his romantic chapel after a debauch. Of course, he was but little
pleased with Joel's remark on the present occasion; and being, like a
modern newspaper, somewhat more vituperative than logical, he broke out
"Jamie," continued Joel, too much accustomed to Mike's violence to heed
it, "it does seem to me a hardship to be obliged to frequent a church
of which a man's conscience can't approve. Mr. Woods, though a native
colonist, is an Old England parson, and he has so many popish ways
about him, that I am under considerable concern of _mind_"--
concern, of _itself_, was not sufficiently emphatic for one of
Joel's sensitive feelings--"I am under considerable _concern of
mind_ about the children. They _sit under_ no other preaching;
and, though Lyddy and I do all we can to gainsay the sermons, as soon
as meetin' is out, some of it _will_ stick. You may worry the best
Christian into idolatry and unbelief, by parseverance and falsehood.
Now that things look so serious, too, in the colonies, we ought to be
Jamie did not clearly understand the application of the present state
of the colonies, nor had he quite made up his mind, touching the merits
of the quarrel between parliament and the Americans. As between the
Stuarts and the House of Hanover, he was for the former, and that
mainly because he thought them Scotch, and it was surely a good thing
for a Scotchman to govern England; but, as between the _Old_
countries and the _New_, he was rather inclined to think the
rights of the first ought to predominate; there being something opposed
to natural order, agreeably to his notions, in permitting the reverse
of this doctrine to prevail. As for presbyterianism, however, even in
the mitigated form of New England church government, he deemed it to be
so much better than episcopacy, that he would have taken up arms, old
as he was, for the party that it could be made to appear was fighting
to uphold the last. We have no wish to mislead the reader. Neither of
the persons mentioned, Mike included, actually _knew_ anything of
the points in dispute between the different sects, or churches,
mentioned; but only _fancied_ themselves in possession of the
doctrines, traditions, and authorities connected with the subject.
These fancies, however, served to keep alive a discussion that soon had
many listeners; and never before, since his first ministration in the
valley, did Mr. Woods meet as disaffected a congregation, as on this
The church of the Hutted Knoll, or, as the clergyman more modestly
termed it, the chapel, stood in the centre of the meadows, on a very
low swell of their surface, where a bit of solid dry ground had been
discovered, fit for such a purpose. The principal object had been to
make it central; though some attention had been paid also to the
picturesque. It was well shaded with young elms, just then opening into
leaf; and about a dozen graves, principally of very young children,
were memorials of the mortality of the settlement. The building was of
stone, the work of Jamie Allen's own hands, but small, square, with a
pointed roof, and totally without tower, or belfry. The interior was of
unpainted cherry, and through a want of skill in the mechanics, had a
cold and raw look, little suited to the objects of the structure.
Still, the small altar, the desk and the pulpit, and the large, square,
curtained pew of the captain, the only one the house contained, were
all well ornamented with hangings, or cloth, and gave the place
somewhat of an air of clerical comfort and propriety. The rest of the
congregation sat on benches, with kneeling-boards before them. The
walls were plastered, and, a proof that parsimony had no connection
with the simple character of the building, and a thing almost as
unusual in America at that period as it is to-day in parts of Italy,
the chapel was entirely finished.
It has been said that the morning of the particular Sabbath at which we
have now arrived, was mild and balmy. The sun of the forty-third degree
of latitude poured out its genial rays upon the valley, gilding the
tender leaves of the surrounding forest with such touches of light as
are best known to the painters of Italy. The fineness of the weather
brought nearly all the working people of the settlement to the chapel
quite an hour before the ringing of its little bell, enabling the men
to compare opinions afresh, on the subject of the political troubles of
the times, and the women to gossip about their children.
On all such occasions, Joel was a principal spokesman, nature having
created him for a demagogue, in a small way; an office for which
education had in no degree unfitted him. As had been usual with him, of
late, he turned the discourse on the importance of having correct
information of what was going on, in the inhabited parts of the
country, and of the expediency of sending some trustworthy person on
such an errand. He had frequently intimated his own readiness to go, if
his neighbours wished it.
"We're all in the dark here," he remarked, "and might stay so to the
end of time, without some one to be relied on, to tell us the news.
Major Willoughby is a fine man"--Joel meant _morally_, not
_physically_--"but he's a king's officer, and nat'rally feels
inclined to make the best of things for the rig'lars. The captain, too,
was once a soldier, himself, and his feelin's turn, as it might be,
unav'idably, to the side he has been most used to. We are like people
on a desart island, out here in the wilderness--and if ships won't
arrive to tell us how matters come on, we must send one out to l'arn it
for us. I'm the last man at the Dam"--so the _oi polloi_ called
the valley--"to say anything hard of either the captain or his son; but
one is English born, and the other is English bred; and each will make
a difference in a man's feelin's."
To this proposition the miller, in particular, assented; and, for the
twentieth time, he made some suggestion about the propriety of Joel's
going himself, in order to ascertain how the land lay.
"You can be back by hoeing," he added, "and have plenty of time to go
as far as Boston, should you wish to."
Now, while the great events were in progress, which led to the
subversion of British power in America, an under-current of feeling, if
not of incidents, was running in this valley, which threatened to wash
away the foundations of the captain's authority. Joel and the miller,
if not downright conspirators, had hopes, calculations, and even
projects of their own, that never would have originated with men of the
same class, in another state of society; or, it might almost be said,
in another part of the world. The sagacity of the overseer had long
enabled him to foresee that the issue of the present troubles would be
insurrection; and a sort of instinct which some men possess for the
strongest side, had pointed out to him the importance of being a
patriot. The captain, he little doubted, would take part with the
crown, and then no one knew what might be the consequences. It is not
probable that Joel's instinct for the strongest side predicted the
precise confiscations that subsequently ensued, some of which had all
the grasping lawlessness of a gross abuse of power; but he could easily
foresee that if the owner of the estate should be driven off, the
property and its proceeds, probably for a series of years, would be
very apt to fall under his own control and management. Many a patriot
has been made by anticipations less brilliant than these; and as Joel
and the miller talked the matter over between them, they had calculated
all the possible emolument of fattening beeves, and packing pork for
hostile armies, or isolated frontier posts, with a strong gusto for the
occupation. Should open war but fairly commence, and could the captain
only be induced to abandon the Knoll, and take refuge within a British
camp, everything might be made to go smoothly, until settling day
should follow a peace. At that moment, _non est inventus_ would be
a sufficient answer to a demand for any balance.
"They tell me," said Joel, in an aside to the miller, "that law is as
good as done with in the Bay colony, already; and you know if the law
has run out _there_, it will quickly come to an end, here. York
never had much character for law."
"That's true, Joel; then you know the captain himself is the only
magistrate hereabout; and, when he is away, we shall have to be
governed by a committee of safety, or something of that natur'."
"A committee of safety will be the thing!"
"What is a committee of safety, Joel?" demanded the miller, who had
made far less progress in the arts of the demagogue than his friend,
and who, in fact, had much less native fitness for the vocation; "I
have heer'n tell of them regulations, but do not rightly understand
'em, a'ter all."
"You know what a committee is?" asked Joel, glancing inquiringly at his
"I s'pose I do--it means men's takin' on themselves the trouble and
care of public business."
"That's it--now a committee of safety means a few of us, for instance,
having the charge of the affairs of this settlement, in order to see
that no harm shall come to anything, especially to the people."
"It would be a good thing to have one, here. The carpenter, and you,
and I might be members, Joel."
"We'll talk about it, another time. The corn is just planted, you know;
and it has got to be hoed _twice_, and topped, before it can be
gathered. Let us wait and see how things come on at Boston."
While this incipient plot was thus slowly coming to a head, and the
congregation was gradually collecting at the chapel, a very different
scene was enacting in the Hut. Breakfast was no sooner through, than
Mrs. Willoughby retired to her own sitting-room, whither her son was
shortly summoned to join her. Expecting some of the inquiries which
maternal affection might prompt, the major proceeded to the place named
with alacrity; but, on entering the room, to his great surprise he
found Maud with his mother. The latter seemed grave and concerned,
while the former was not entirely free from alarm. The young man
glanced inquiringly at the young lady, and he fancied he saw tears
struggling to break out of her eyes.
"Come hither, Robert"--said Mrs. Willoughby, pointing to a chair at her
side--with a gravity that struck her son as unusual--"I have brought
you here to listen to one of the old-fashioned lectures, of which you
got so many when a boy."
"Your advice, my dear mother--or even your reproofs--would be listened
to with far more reverence and respect, now, than I fear they were
then," returned the major, seating himself by the side of Mrs.
Willoughby, and taking one of her hands, affectionately, in both his
own. "It is only in after-life that we learn to appreciate the
tenderness and care of such a parent as you have been; though what I
have done lately, to bring me in danger of the guard-house, I cannot
imagine. Surely _you_ cannot blame me for adhering to the crown,
at a moment like this!"
"I shall not interfere with your conscience in this matter, Robert; and
my own feelings, American as I am by birth and family, rather incline
me to think as you think. I have wished to see you, my son, on a
"Do not keep me in suspense, mother; I feel like a prisoner who is
waiting to hear his charges read. What have I done?"
"Nay, it is rather for _you_ to tell _me_ what you have done.
You cannot have forgotten, Robert, how very anxious I have been to
awaken and keep alive family affection, among my children; how very
important both your father and I have always deemed it; and how
strongly we have endeavoured to impress this importance on all your
minds. The tie of family, and the love it ought to produce, is one of
the sweetest of all our earthly duties. Perhaps we old people see its
value more than you young; but, to us, the weakening of it seems like a
disaster only a little less to be deplored than death."
"Dearest--dearest mother! What _can_ you--what _do_ you
mean?--What can _I_--what can _Maud_ have to do with this?"
"Do not your consciences tell you, both? Has there not been some
misunderstanding--perhaps a quarrel--certainly a coldness between you?
A mother has a quick and a jealous eye; and I have seen, for some time,
that there is not the old confidence, the free natural manner, in
either of you, that there used to be, and which always gave your father
and me so much genuine happiness. Speak, then, and let me make peace
Robert Willoughby would not have looked at Maud, at that moment, to
have been given a regiment; as for Maud, herself, she was utterly
incapable of raising her eyes from the floor. The former coloured to
the temples, a proof of consciousness, his mother fancied; while the
latter's face resembled ivory, as much as flesh and blood.
"If you think, Robert," continued Mrs. Willoughby, "that Maud has
forgotten you, or shown pique for any little former misunderstanding,
during your last absence, you do her injustice. No one has done as much
for you, in the way of memorial; that beautiful sash being all her own
work, and made of materials purchased with her own pocket-money. Maud
loves you truly, too; for, whatever may be the airs she gives herself,
while you are together, when absent, no one seems to care more for your
wishes and happiness, than that very wilful and capricious girl."
"Mother!--mother!" murmured Maud, burying her face in both her hands.
Mrs. Willoughby was woman in all her feelings, habits and nature. No
one would have been more keenly alive to the peculiar sensibilities of
her sex, under ordinary circumstances, than herself; but she was now
acting and thinking altogether in her character of a mother; and so
long and intimately had she regarded the two beings before her, in that
common and sacred light, that it would have been like the dawn of a new
existence for her, just then, to look upon them as not really akin to
"I shall not, nor can I treat either of you as a child," she continued,
"and must therefore appeal only to your own good sense, to make a
peace. I know it can be nothing serious; but, it is painful to me to
see even an affected coldness among my children. Think, Maud, that we
are on the point of a war, and how bitterly you would regret it, should
any accident befall your brother, and your memory not be able to recall
the time passed among us, in his last visit, with entire satisfaction."
The mother's voice trembled; but tears no longer struggled about the
eyelids of Maud. Her face was pale as death, and it seemed as if every
ordinary fountain of sorrow were dried up.
"Dear Bob, this is too much!" she said eagerly, though in husky tones.
"Here is my hand--nay, here are _both_. Mother must not think this
cruel charge is--_can_ be true."
The major arose, approached his sister, and impressed a kiss on her
cold cheek. Mrs. Willoughby smiled at these tokens of amity, and the
conversation continued in a less earnest manner.
"This is right, my children," said the single-hearted Mrs. Willoughby,
whose sensitive maternal love saw nothing but the dreaded consequences
of weakened domestic affections; "and I shall be all the happier for
having witnessed it. Young soldiers, Maud, who are sent early from
their homes, have too many inducements to forget them and those they
contain; and we women are so dependent on the love of our male friends,
that it is wisdom in _us_ to keep alive all the earlier ties as
long and as much as possible."
"I am sure, dearest mother," murmured Maud, though in a voice that was
scarcely audible, "_I_ shall be the last to wish to weaken this
family tie. No one can feel a warmer--more proper--a more _sisterly_
affection for Robert, than I do--he was always so kind to
me when a child--and so ready to assist me--and so manly--and so
everything that he ought to be--it is surprising you should have
fancied there was any coldness between us!"
Major Willoughby even bent forward to listen, so intense was his
curiosity to hear what Maud said; a circumstance which, had she seen
it, would probably have closed her lips. But her eyes were riveted on
the floor, her cheeks were bloodless, and her voice so low, that
nothing but the breathless stillness he observed, would have allowed
the young man to hear it, where he sat.
"You forget, mother"--rejoined the major, satisfied that the last
murmur had died on his ears--"that Maud will probably be transplanted
into another family, one of these days, where we, who know her so well,
and have reason to love her so much, can only foresee that she will
form new, and even stronger ties than any that accident may have formed
for her here."
"Never--never"--exclaimed Maud, fervently--"I can never love any as
well as I love those who are in this house."
The relief she wanted stopped her voice, and, bursting into tears, she
threw-herself into Mrs. Willoughby's arms, and sobbed like a child. The
mother now motioned to her son to quit the room, while she remained
herself to soothe the weeping girl, as she so often had done before,
when overcome by her infantile, or youthful griefs. Throughout this
interview, habit and single-heartedness so exercised their influence,
that the excellent matron did not, in the most remote manner, recollect
that her son and Maud were not natural relatives. Accustomed herself to
see the latter every day, and to think of her, as she had from the
moment when she was placed in her arms, an infant of a few weeks old
the effect that separation might produce on others, never presented
itself to her mind. Major Willoughby, a boy of eight when Maud was
received in the family, had known from the first her precise position;
and it was perhaps morally impossible that _he_ should not recall
the circumstance in their subsequent intercourse; more especially as
school, college, and the army, had given him so much leisure to reflect
on such things, apart from the influence of family habits; while it was
to be expected that a consequence of his own peculiar mode of thinking
on this subject, would be to produce something like a sympathetic
sentiment in the bosom of Maud. Until within the last few years,
however, she had been so much of a child herself, and had been treated
so much like a child by the young soldier, that it was only through a
change in him, that was perceptible only to herself, and which occurred
when he first met her grown into womanhood, that she alone admitted any
feelings that were not strictly to be referred to sisterly regard. All
this, nevertheless, was a profound mystery to every member of the
family, but the two who were its subjects; no other thoughts than the
simplest and most obvious, ever suggesting themselves to the minds of
In half an hour, Mrs. Willoughby had quieted all Maud's present
troubles, and the whole family left the house to repair to the chapel.
Michael, though he had no great reverence for Mr. Wood's ministrations,
had constituted himself sexton, an office which had devolved on him in
consequence of his skill with the spade. Once initiated into one branch
of this duty, he had insisted on performing all the others; and it was
sometimes a curious spectacle to see the honest fellow, busy about the
interior of the building, during service, literally stopping one of his
ears with a thumb, with a view, while he acquitted himself of what he
conceived to be temporal obligations, to exclude as much heresy as
possible. One of his rules was to refuse to commence tolling the bell,
until he saw Mrs. Willoughby and her daughter, within a reasonable
distance of the place of worship; a rule that had brought about more
than one lively discussion between himself and the levelling-minded, if
not heavenly-minded Joel Strides. On the present occasion, this simple
process did not pass altogether without a dispute.
"Come, Mike; it's half-past ten; the people have been waiting about the
meetin' 'us, some time; you should open the doors and toll the bell.
People can't wait, for ever for anybody; not even for your church."
"Then let 'em just go home, ag'in, and come when they're called.
Because, the ould women, and the young women, and the childer, and the
likes o' them, wishes to scandalize their fellow cr'atures, Christians
I will not call 'em, let 'em mate in the mill, or the school-house, and
not come forenent a church on sich a business as that. Is it toll the
bell, will I, afore the Missus is in sight?--No--not for a whole
gineration of ye, Joel; and every one o' them, too, a much likelier man
than ye bees yerself."
"Religion is no respecter of persons"--returned the philosophical Joel.
"Them that likes masters and mistresses may have them, for all me; but
it riles me to meet with meanness."
"It does!" cried Mike, looking up at his companion, with a very
startling expression of wonder. "If that be true, ye must be in a
mighty throubled state, most of the live-long day, ye must!"
"I tell you, Michael O'Hearn, religion is no respecter of persons. The
Lord cares jist as much for _me_, as he does for captain
Willoughby, or his wife, or his son, or his darters, or anything that
"Divil burn me, now, Joel, if I believe _that_!" again cried Mike,
in his dogmatic manner. "Them that understands knows the difference
between mankind, and I'm sure it can be no great sacret to the Lord,
when it is so well known to a poor fellow like myself. There's a
plenthy of fellow-cr'atures that has a mighty good notion of their own
excellence, but when it comes to r'ason and thruth, it's no very great
figure ye all make, in proving what ye say. This chapel is the
master's, if chapel the heretical box can be called, and yonder bell
was bought wid his money; and the rope is his; and the hands that mane
to pull it, is his; and so there's little use in talking ag'in rocks,
and ag'in minds that's made up even harder than rocks, and to spare."
This settled the matter. The bell was not tolled until Mrs. Willoughby,
and her daughters, had got fairly through the still unprotected gateway
of the stockade, although the recent discussion of political questions
had so far substituted discontent for subordination in the settlement,
that more than half of those who were of New England descent, had
openly expressed their dissatisfaction at the delay. Mike, however, was
as unmoved as the little chapel itself, refusing to open the door until
the proper moment had arrived, according to his own notion of the
fitness of things. He then proceeded to the elm, against which the
little bell was hung, and commenced tolling it with as much seriousness
as if the conveyer of sounds had been duly consecrated.
When the family from the Hut entered the chapel, all the rest of the
congregation were in their customary seats. This arrival, however,
added materially to the audience, Great Smash and Little Smash, the two
Plinys, and some five or six coloured children, between the ages of six
and twelve, following in the train of their master. For the blacks, a
small gallery had been built, where they could sit apart, a proscribed,
if not a persecuted race. Little did the Plinys or the Smashes,
notwithstanding, think of this. Habit had rendered their situation more
than tolerable, for it had created notions and usages that would have
rendered them uncomfortable, in closer contact with the whites. In that
day, the two colours never ate together, by any accident; the eastern
castes being scarcely more rigid in the observance of their rules, than
the people of America were on this great point. The men who would toil
together, joke together, and pass their days in familiar intercourse,
would not sit down at the same board. There seemed to be a sort of
contamination, according to the opinions of one of these castes, in
breaking bread with the other. This prejudice often gave rise to
singular scenes, more especially in the households of those who
habitually laboured in company with their slaves. In such families, it
not unfrequently happened that a black led the councils of the farm. He
might be seen seated by the fire, uttering his opinions dogmatically,
reasoning warmly against his own master, and dealing out his wisdom
_ex cathedra_, even while he waited, with patient humility, when he
might approach, and satisfy his hunger, after all of the other colour
had quitted the table.
Mr. Woods was not fortunate in the selection of his subject, on the
occasion of which we are writing. There had been so much personal
activity, and so much political discussion during the past week, as to
prevent him from writing a new sermon, and of course he was compelled
to fail back on the other end of the barrel. The recent arguments
inclined him to maintain his own opinions, and he chose a discourse
that he had delivered to the garrison of which he had last been
chaplain. To this choice he had been enticed by the text, which was,
"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," a mandate that would
be far more palatable to an audience composed of royal troops, than to
one which had become a good deal disaffected by the arts and arguments
of Joel Strides and the miller. Still, as the sermon contained a proper
amount of theological truisms, and had a sufficiency of general
orthodoxy to cover a portion of its political bearing, it gave far more
dissatisfaction to a few of the knowing, than to the multitude. To own
the truth, the worthy priest was so much addicted to continuing his
regimental and garrison course of religious instruction, that his
ordinary listeners would scarcely observe this tendency to loyalty;
though it was far different with those who were eagerly looking for
causes of suspicion and denunciation, in the higher quarters.
"Well," said Joel, as he and the miller, followed by their respective
families, proceeded towards the mill, where the household of the
Strides' were to pass the remainder of the day, "well, this is a bold
sermon for a minister to preach in times like these! I kind o' guess,
if Mr. Woods was down in the Bay, 'render unto Caesar the things that
are Caesars,' wouldn't be doctrine to be so quietly received by every
congregation. What's your notion about that, Miss Strides?"
_Miss_ Strides thought exactly as her husband thought, and the
miller and his wife were not long in chiming in with her, accordingly.
The sermon furnished material for conversation throughout the remainder
of the day, at the mill, and divers conclusions were drawn from it,
that were ominous to the preacher's future comfort and security.
Nor did the well-meaning parson entirely escape comment in the higher
"I wish, Woods, you had made choice of some other subject," observed
the captain, as he and his friend walked the lawn together, in waiting
for a summons to dinner.
"In times like these, one cannot be too careful of the political
notions he throws out; and to own the truth to you, I am more than half
inclined to think that Caesar is exercising quite as much authority, in
these colonies, as justly falls to his share."
"Why, my dear captain, you have heard this very sermon three or four
times already, and you have more than once mentioned it with
"Ay, but that was in garrison, where one is obliged to teach
subordination. I remember the sermon quite well, and a very good one it
was, twenty years since, when you first preached it; but--"
"I apprehend, captain Willoughby, that '_tempora mutantur, et, nos
mutamus in illis.'_ That the mandates and maxims of the Saviour are
far beyond the mutations and erring passions of mortality. His sayings
are intended for all times."
"Certainly, as respects their general principles and governing truths.
But no text is to be interpreted without some reference to
circumstances. All I mean is, that the preaching which might be very
suitable to a battalion of His Majesty's Fortieth might be very
unsuitable for the labourers of the Hutted Knoll; more especially so
soon after what I find is called the Battle of Lexington."
The summons to dinner cut short the discourse; and probably prevented a
long, warm, but friendly argument.
That afternoon and evening, captain Willoughby and his son had a
private and confidential discourse. The former advised the major to
rejoin his regiment without delay, unless he were prepared to throw up
his commission and take sides with the colonists, altogether. To this
the young soldier would not listen, returning to the charge, in the
hope of rekindling the dormant flame of his father's loyalty.
The reader is not to suppose that captain Willoughby's own mind was
absolutely made up to fly into open rebellion. Far from it. He had his
doubts and misgivings on the subjects of both principles and prudence,
but he inclined strongly to the equity of the demands of the Americans.
Independence, or separation, if thought of at all in 1775 entered into
the projects of but very few; the warmest wish of the most ardent of
the whigs of the colonies being directed toward compromise, and a
distinct recognition of their political franchises. The events that
followed so thickly were merely the consequences of causes which, once
set in motion, soon attained an impetus that defied ordinary human
control. It was doubtless one of the leading incidents of the great and
mysterious scheme of Divine Providence for the government of the future
destinies of man, that political separation should commence, in this
hemisphere, at that particular juncture, to be carried out, ere the end
of a century, to its final and natural conclusion.
But the present interview was less to debate the merits of any disputed
question, than to consult on the means of future intercourse, and to
determine on what was best to be done at the present moment. After
discussing the matter, pro and con, it was decided that the major
should quit the Knoll the next day, and return to Boston, avoiding
Albany and those points of the country in which he would be most
exposed to detection. So many persons were joining the American forces
that were collecting about the besieged town, that his journeying on
the proper road would excite no suspicion; and once in the American
camp, nothing would be easier than to find his way into the peninsula.
All this young Willoughby felt no difficulty in being able to
accomplish, provided he could get into the settlements without being
followed by information of his real character. The period of spies, and
of the severe exercise of martial-law, was not yet reached; and all
that was apprehended was detention. Of the last, however, there was
great danger; positive certainty, indeed, in the event of discovery;
and major Willoughby had gleaned enough during his visit, to feel some
apprehensions of being betrayed. He regretted having brought his
servant with him; for the man was a European, and by his dulness and
speech might easily get them both into difficulties. So serious,
indeed, was this last danger deemed by the father, that he insisted on
Robert's starting without the man, leaving the last to follow, on the
first suitable occasion.
As soon as this point was settled, there arose the question of the
proper guide. Although he distrusted the Tuscarora, captain Willoughby,
after much reflection, came to the opinion that it would be safer to
make an ally of him, than to give him an opportunity of being employed
by the other side. Nick was sent for, and questioned. He promised to
take the major to the Hudson, at a point between Lunenburg and
Kinderhook, where he would be likely to cross the river without
awakening suspicion; his own reward to depend on his coming back to the
Hutted Knoll with a letter from the major, authorizing the father to
pay him for his services. This plan, it was conceived, would keep Nick
true to his faith, for the time being, at least.
Many other points were discussed between the father and son, the latter
promising if anything of importance occurred, to find the means of
communicating it to his friends at the Knoll, while Parrel was to
follow his master, at the end of six weeks or two months, with letters
from the family. Many of the captain's old army-friends were now in
situations of authority and command, and he sent to them messages of
prudence, and admonitions to be moderate in their views, which
subsequent events proved were little regarded. To general Gage he even
wrote, using the precaution not to sign the letter, though its
sentiments were so much in favour of the colonies, that had it been
intercepted, it is most probable the Americans would have forwarded the
missive to its direction.
These matters arranged, the father and son parted for the night, some
time after the house-clock had struck the hour of twelve.
Though old in cunning, as in years,
He is so small, that like a child
In face and form, the god appears,
And sportive like a boy, and wild;
Lightly he moves from place to place,
In none at rest, in none content;
Delighted some new toy to chase--
On childish purpose ever bent.
Beware! to childhood's spirits gay
Is added more than childhood's power;
And you perchance may rue the hour
That saw you join his seeming play.
The intention of the major to quit the Knoll that day, was announced to
the family at breakfast, on the following morning. His mother and
Beulah heard this intelligence, with a natural and affectionate
concern, that they had no scruples in avowing; but Maud seemed to have
so schooled her feelings, that the grief she really felt was under a
prudent control. To her, it appeared as if her secret were constantly
on the point of exposure, and she believed _that_ would cause her
instant death. To survive its shame was impossible in her eyes, and all
the energies of her nature were aroused, with the determination of
burying her weakness in her own bosom. She had been so near revealing
it to Beulah, that even now she trembled as she thought of the
precipice over which she had been impending, strengthening her
resolution by the recollection of the danger she had run.
As a matter of necessary caution, the intended movements of the young
man were kept a profound secret from all in the settlement. Nick had
disappeared in the course of the night, carrying with him the major's
pack, having repaired to a designated point on the stream, where he was
to be joined by his fellow-traveller at an hour named. There were
several forest-paths which led to the larger settlements. That usually
travelled was in the direction of old Fort Stanwix, first proceeding
north, and then taking a south-eastern direction, along the shores of
the Mohawk. This was the route by which the major had come. Another
struck the Otsego, and joined the Mohawk at the point more than once
mentioned in our opening chapters. As these were the two ordinary
paths--if paths they could be called, where few or no traces of
footsteps were visible--it was more than probable any plan to arrest
the traveller would be laid in reference to their courses. The major
had consequently resolved to avoid them both, and to strike boldly into
the mountains, until he should reach the Susquehanna, cross that stream
on its flood wood, and finding one of its tributaries that flowed in
from the eastward, by following its banks to the high land, which
divides the waters of the Mohawk from this latter river, place himself
on a route that would obliquely traverse the water-courses, which, in
this quarter of the country, have all a general north or south
direction. Avoiding Schenectady and Albany, he might incline towards
the old establishments of the descendants of the emigrants from the
Palatinate, on the Schoharie, and reach the Hudson at a point deemed
safe for his purposes, through some of the passes of the mountains in
their vicinity. He was to travel in the character of a land-owner who
had been visiting his patent, and his father supplied him with a map
and an old field-book, which would serve to corroborate his assumed
character, in the event of suspicion, or arrest. Not much danger was
apprehended, however, the quarrel being yet too recent to admit of the
organization and distrust that subsequently produced so much vigilance
"You will contrive to let us hear of your safe arrival in Boston, Bob,"
observed the father, as he sat stirring his tea, in a thoughtful
way--"I hope to God the matter will go no farther, and that our
apprehensions, after all, have given this dark appearance to what has
"Ah, my dear father; you little know the state of the country, through
which I have so lately travelled!" answered the major, shaking his
head. "An alarm of fire, in an American town, would scarce create more
movement, and not so much excitement. The colonies are alive,
particularly those of New England, and a civil war is inevitable;
though I trust the power of England will render it short."
"Then, Robert, do not trust yourself among the people of New England"--
cried the anxious mother. "Go rather to New York, where we have so many
friends, and so much influence. It will be far easier to reach New York
than to reach Boston."
"That may be true, mother, but it will scarcely be as creditable. My
regiment is in Boston, and its enemies are _before_ Boston; an old
soldier like captain Willoughby will tell you that the major is a very
necessary officer to a corps. No--no--my best course is to fall into
the current of adventurers who are pushing towards Boston, and appear
like one of their number, until I can get an opportunity of stealing
away from them, and join my own people."
"Have a care, Bob, that you do not commit a military crime. Perhaps
these provincial officers may take it into their heads to treat you as
a spy, should you fall into their hands!"
"Little fear of that, sir; at present it is a sort of colonial scramble
for what they fancy liberty. That they will fight, in their zeal, I
know; for I have seen it; but matters have not at all gone as far as
you appear to apprehend. I question if they would even stop Gage,
himself, from going through their camp, were he outside, and did he
express a desire to return."
"And yet you tell me, arms and ammunition are seized all over the land;
that several old half-pay officers of the king have been arrested, and
put under a sort of parole!"
"Such things were talked of, certainly, though I question if they have
yet been done. Luckily for yourself, under your present opinions at
least, _you_ are not on half-pay, even."
"It is fortunate, Bob, though you mention it with a smile. With my
present feelings, I should indeed be sorry to be on half-pay, or
quarter-pay, were there such a thing. I now feel myself my-own master,
at liberty to follow the dictates of my conscience, and the suggestions
of my judgment."
"Well, sir, you are a little fortunate, it must be acknowledged. I
cannot see how any man _can_ be at liberty to throw off the
allegiance he owes his natural sovereign. What think you, Maud?"
This was said half in bitterness, half in jest, though the appeal at
its close was uttered in a serious manner, and a little anxiously. Maud
hesitated, as if to muster her thoughts, ere she replied.
"My feelings are against rebellion," she said, at length; "though I
fear my reason tells me there is no such thing as a natural sovereign.
If the parliament had not given us the present family, a century since,
by what rule of nature would it be our princes, Bob?"
"Ah! these are some of the flights of your rich imagination, my dear--
Maud; it is parliament that has made them our princes, and parliament,
at least, is our legal, constitutional master."
"That is just the point in dispute. Parliament may be the rightful
governors of England, but are they the rightful governors of America?"
"Enough," said the captain, rising from table--"We will not discuss
such a question, just as we are about to separate. Go, my son; a duty
that is to be performed, cannot be done too soon. Your fowling-piece
and ammunition are ready for you, and I shall take care to circulate
the report that you have gone to pass an hour in the woods, in search
of pigeons. God bless you, Bob; however we may differ in this matter--
you are my son--my _only_ son--my dear and well-beloved boy--God
for ever bless you!"
A profound stillness succeeded this burst of nature, and then the young
man took his leave of his mother and the girls. Mrs. Willoughby kissed
her child. She did not even weep, until she was in her room; then,
indeed, she went to her knees, her tears, and her prayers. Beulah, all
heart and truth as she was, wept freely on her brother's neck; but
Maud, though pale and trembling, received his kiss without returning
it; though she could not help saying with a meaning that the young man
had in his mind all that day, ay, and for many succeeding days--"be
careful of yourself, and run into no unnecessary dangers; God bless
you, dear, _dear_ Bob."
Maud alone followed the movements of the gentlemen with her eyes. The
peculiar construction of the Hut prevented external view from the south
windows; but there was a loop in a small painting-room of the garret
that was especially under her charge. Thither, then, she flew, to ease
her nearly bursting heart with tears, and to watch the retiring
footsteps of Robert. She saw him, accompanied by his father and the
chaplain, stroll leisurely down the lawn, conversing and affecting an
indifferent manner, with a wish to conceal his intent to depart. The
glass of the loop was open, to admit the air, and Maud strained her
sense of hearing, in the desire to catch, if possible, another tone of
his voice. In this she was unsuccessful; though he stopped and gazed
back at the Hut, as if to take a parting look. Her father and Mr. Woods
did not turn, and Maud thrust her hand through the opening and waved
her handkerchief. "He will think it Beulah or I," she thought, "and it
may prove a consolation to him to know how much _we_ love him."
The major saw the signal, and returned it. His father unexpectedly
turned, and caught a glimpse of the retiring hand, as it was
disappearing within the loop. "That is our precious Maud," he said,
without other thought than of her sisterly affection. "It is _her_
painting-room; Beulah's is on the other side of the gateway; but the
window does not seem to be open."
The major started, kissed his hand fervently, five or six times, and
then he walked on. As if to change the conversation, he said hastily,
and with a little want of connection with what had just passed--
"Yes, sir, that gate, sure enough--have it hung, at once, I do entreat
of you. I shall not be easy until I hear that both the gates are hung--
that in the stockade, and that in the house, itself."
"It was my intention to commence to-day," returned the father, "but
your departure has prevented it. I will wait a day or two, to let your
mother and sisters tranquillize their minds a little, before we besiege
them with the noise and clamour of the workmen."
"Better besiege them with _that_, my dear sir, than leave them
exposed to an Indian, or even a rebel attack."
The major then went on to give some of his more modern military
notions, touching the art of defence. As one of the old school, he
believed his father a miracle of skill; but what young man, who had
enjoyed the advantages of ten or fifteen years of the most recent
training in any branch of knowledge, ever believed the educations of
those who went before him beyond the attacks of criticism. The captain
listened patiently, and with an old man's tolerance for inexperience,
glad to have any diversion to unhappy thoughts.
All this time Maud watched their movements from the loop, with eyes
streaming with tears. She saw Robert pause, and look back, again and
again; and, once more, she thrust out the handkerchief. It was plain,
however, he did not see it; for he turned and proceeded, without any
"He never _can_ know whether it was Beulah or I," thought Maud;
"yet, he may fancy we are _both_ here."
On the rocks, that overhung the mills, the gentlemen paused, and
conversed for quite a quarter of an hour. The distance prevented Maud
from discerning their countenances; but she could perceive the
thoughtful, and as she fancied melancholy, attitude of the major, as,
leaning on his fowling-piece, his lace was turned towards the Knoll,
and his eyes were really riveted on the loop. At the end of the time
mentioned, the young soldier shook hands hastily and covertly with his
companions, hurried towards the path, and descended out of sight,
following the course of the stream. Maud saw him no more, though her
father and Mr. Woods stood on the rocks quite half an hour longer,
catching occasional glimpses of his form, as it came out of the shadows
of the forest, into the open space of the little river; and, indeed,
until the major was within a short distance of the spot where he was to
meet the Indian. Then they heard the reports of both barrels of his
fowling-piece, fired in quick succession, the signals that he had
joined his guide. This welcome news received, the two gentlemen
returned slowly towards the house.
Such was the commencement of a day, which, while it brought forth
nothing alarming to the family of the Hutted Knoll, was still pregnant
with important consequences. Major Willoughby disappeared from the
sight of his father about ten in the morning; and before twelve, the
settlement was alive with the rumours of a fresh arrival. Joel knew not
whether to rejoice or to despair, as he saw a party of eight or ten
armed men rising above the rock, and holding their course across the
flats towards the house. He entertained no doubt of its being a party
sent by the provincial authorities to arrest the captain, and he
foresaw the probability of another's being put into the lucrative
station of receiver of the estate, during the struggle which was in
perspective. It is surprising how many, and sometimes how pure patriots
are produced by just such hopes as those of Joel's. At this day, there
is scarce an instance of a confiscated estate, during the American
revolution, connected with which racy traditions are not to be found,
that tell of treachery very similar to this contemplated by the
overseer in some instances of treachery effected by means of kinsmen
and false friends.
Joel had actually got on his Sunday coat, and was making his way
towards the Knoll, in order to be present, at least, at the anticipated
scene, when, to his amazement, and somewhat to his disappointment, he
saw the captain and chaplain moving down the lawn, in a manner to show
that these unexpected arrivals brought not unwelcome guests. This
caused him to pause; and when he perceived that the only two among the
strangers who had the air of gentlemen, were met with cordial shakes of
the hand, he turned back towards his own tenement, a half-dissatisfied,
and yet half contented man.
The visit which the captain had come out to receive, instead of
producing any uneasiness in his family, was, in truth, highly
agreeable, and very opportune. It was Evert Beekman, with an old
friend, attended by a party of chain-bearers, hunters, &c., on his way
from the "Patent" he owned in the neighbourhood--that is to say, within
fifty miles--and halting at the Hutted Knoll, under the courteous
pretence of paying his respects to the family, but, in reality, to
bring the suit he had now been making to Beulah for quite a
twelvemonth, to a successful termination.
The attachment between Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby was of a
character so simple, so sincere, and so natural, as scarce to furnish
materials for a brief episode. The young man had not made his addresses
without leave obtained from the parents; he had been acceptable to the
daughter from the commencement of their acquaintance; and she had only
asked time to reflect, ere she gave her answer, when he proposed, a day
or two before the family left New York.
To own the truth, Beulah was a little surprised that her suitor had
delayed his appearance till near the close of May, when she had
expected to see him at the beginning of the month. A letter, however,
was out of the question, since there was no mode of transmitting it,
unless the messenger were sent expressly; and the young man had now
come in person, to make his own apologies.
Beulah received Evert Beekman naturally, and without the least
exaggeration of manner, though a quiet happiness beamed in her handsome
face, that said as much as lover could reasonably desire. Her parents
welcomed him cordially, and the suitor must have been dull indeed, not
to anticipate all he hoped. Nor was it long before every doubt was
removed. The truthful, conscientious Beulah, had well consulted her
heart; and, while she blushed at her own temerity, she owned her
attachment to her admirer. The very day of his arrival they became
formally betrothed. As our tale, however, has but a secondary
connection with this little episode, we shall not dwell on it more than
is necessary to the principal object. It was a busy morning,
altogether; and, though there were many tears, there were also many
smiles. By the time it was usual, at that bland season, for the family
to assemble on the lawn, everything, even to the day, was settled
between Beulah and her lover, and there was a little leisure to think
of other things. It was while the younger Pliny and one of the Smashes
were preparing the tea, that the following conversation was held, being
introduced by Mr. Woods, in the way of digressing from feelings in
which he was not quite as much interested as some of the rest of the
"Do you bring us anything new from Boston?" demanded the chaplain. "I
have been dying to ask the question these two hours--ever since dinner,
in fact; but, somehow, Mr. Beekman, I have not been able to edge in an
This was said good-naturedly, but quite innocently; eliciting smiles,
blushes, and meaning glances in return. Evert Beekman, however, looked
grave before he made his reply.
"To own the truth, Mr. Woods," he said, "things are getting to be very
serious. Boston is surrounded by thousands of our people; and we hope,
not only to keep the king's forces in the Peninsula, but, in the end,
to drive them out of the colony."
"This is a bold measure, Mr. Beekman!--a very bold step to take against
"Woods preached about the rights of Caesar, no later than yesterday, you
ought to know, Beekman," put in the laughing captain; "and I am afraid
he will be publicly praying for the success of the British arms, before
"I _did_ pray for the Royal Family," said the chaplain, with
spirit, "and hope I shall ever continue to do so."
"My dear fellow, I do not object to _that_. Pray for all
conditions of men, enemies and friends alike; and, particularly, pray
for our princes; but pray also to turn the hearts of their advisers."
Beekman seemed uneasy. He belonged to a decidedly whig family, and was
himself, at the very moment, spoken of as the colonel of one of the
regiments about to be raised in the colony of New York. He held that
rank in the militia, as it was; and no one doubted his disposition to
resist the British forces, at the proper moment. He had even stolen
away from what he conceived to be very imperative duties, to secure the
woman of his heart before he went into the field. His answer, in
accordance, partook essentially of the bias of his mind.
"I do not know, sir, that it is quite wise to pray so very willingly
for the Royal Family," he said. "We may wish them worldly happiness,
and spiritual consolation, as part of the human race; but political and
specific prayers, in times like these, are to be used with caution. Men
attach more than the common religious notion, just now, to prayers for
the king, which some interpret into direct petitions against the United
"Well," rejoined the captain, "I cannot agree to this, myself. If there
were a prayer to confound parliament and its counsels, I should be very
apt to join in it cordially; but I am not yet ready to throw aside
king, queen, princes and princesses, all in a lump, on account of a few
taxes, and a tittle tea."
"I am sorry to hear this from you, sir," answered Evert. "When your
opinions were canvassed lately at Albany, I gave a sort of pledge that
you were certainly more with us than against us."
"Well then, I think, Beekman, you drew me in my true outlines. In the
main, I think the colonies right, though I am still willing to pray for
"I am one of those, captain Willoughby, who look forward to the most
serious times. The feeling throughout the colonies is tremendous, and
the disposition on the part of the royal officers is to meet the crisis
"You have a brother a captain of foot in one of the regiments of the
crown, colonel Beekman--what are his views in this serious state of
"He has already thrown up his commission--refusing even to sell out, a
privilege that was afforded him. His name is now before congress for a
majority in one of the new regiments that are to be raised."
The captain looked grave; Mrs. Willoughby anxious; Beulah interested;
and Maud thoughtful.
"This has a serious aspect, truly," observed the first. "When men
abandon all their early hopes, to assume new duties, there must be a
deep and engrossing cause. I had not thought it like to come to this!"
"We have had hopes major Willoughby might do the same; I know that a
regiment is at his disposal, if he be disposed to join us. No one would
be more gladly received. We are to have Gates, Montgomery, Lee, and
many other old officers, from regular corps, on our side."
"Will colonel Lee be put at the head of the American forces?"
"I think not, sir. He has a high reputation, and a good deal of
experience, but he is a humourist; and what is something, though you
will pardon it, he is not an American born."
"It is quite right to consult such considerations, Beekman; were I in
congress, they would influence _me_, Englishman as I am, and in
many things must always remain."
"I am glad to hear you say that, Willoughby," exclaimed the chaplain--"
right down rejoiced to hear you say so! A man is bound to stand by his
birth-place, through thick and thin."
"How do you, then, reconcile your opinions, in this matter, to _your_
birth-place, Woods?" asked the laughing captain.
To own the truth, the chaplain was a little confused. He had entered
into the controversy with so much zeal, of late, as to have imbibed the
feelings of a thorough partisan; and, as is usual, with such
philosophers, was beginning to overlook everything that made against
his opinions, and to exaggerate everything that sustained them.
"How?"--he cried, with zeal, if not with consistency--"Why, well
enough. I am an Englishman too, in the general view of the case, though
born in Massachusetts. Of English descent, and an English subject."
"Umph!--Then Beekman, here, who is of Dutch descent, is not bound by
the same principles as we are ourselves?"
"Not by the same _feelings_ possibly; but, surely, by the same
principles. Colonel Beekman is an Englishman by construction, and you
are by birth. Yes, I'm what may be called a _constructive_
Even Mrs. Willoughby and Beulah laughed at this, though not a smile had
crossed Maud's face, since her eye had lost Robert Willoughby from
view. The captain's ideas seemed to take a new direction, and he was
silent some little time before he spoke.
"Under the circumstances in which we are now placed, as respects each
other, Mr. Beekman," he said, "it is proper that there should be no
concealments on grave points. Had you arrived an hour or two earlier,
you would have met a face well known to you, in that of my son, major
"Major Willoughby, my dear sir!" exclaimed Beekman, with a start of
unpleasant surprise; "I had supposed him with the royal army, in
Boston. You say he has left the Knoll--I sincerely hope not for
"No--I wished him to go in that direction, at first, and to see you, in
particular; but his representations of the state of the country induced
me to change my mind; he travels by a private way, avoiding all the
towns of note, or size."
"In that he has done well, sir. Near to me as a brother of Beulah's
must always seem, I should be sorry to see Bob, just at this moment. If
there be no hope of getting him to join us, the farther we are
separated the better."
This was said gravely, and it caused all who heard it fully to
appreciate the serious character of a quarrel that threatened to arm
brother against brother. As if by common consent, the discourse
changed, all appearing anxious, at a moment otherwise so happy, to
obliterate impressions so unpleasant from their thoughts.
The captain, his wife, Beulah and the colonel, had several long and
private communications in the course of the evening. Maud was not sorry
to be left to herself, and the chaplain devoted his time to the
entertainment of the friend of Beekman, who was in truth a surveyor,
brought along partly to preserve appearances, and partly for service.
The chain-bearers, hunters, &c., had been distributed in the different
cabins of the settlement, immediately on the arrival of the party.
That night, when the sisters retired, Maud perceived that Beulah had
something to communicate, out of the common way. Still, she did not
know whether it would be proper for her to make any inquiries, and
things were permitted to take their natural course. At length Beulah,
in her gentle way, remarked--"It is a fearful thing, Maud, for a woman
to take upon herself the new duties, obligations and ties of a wife."
"She should _not_ do it, Beulah, unless she feels a love for the
man of her choice, that will sustain her in them. You, who have
_real_ parents living, ought to feel this fully, as I doubt not you
"_Real_ parents! Maud, you frighten me! Are not _my_ parents
_yours?_--Is not all our love common?"
"I am ashamed of myself, Beulah. Dearer and better parents than mine,
no girl ever had. I am ashamed of my words, and beg you will forget
"That I shall be very ready to do. It was a great consolation to think
that should I be compelled to quit home, as compelled I must be in the
end, I should leave with my father and mother a child as dutiful, and
one that loves them as sincerely as yourself, Maud."
"You have thought right, Beulah. I do love them to my heart's core!
Then you are right in another sense; for I shall _never_ marry. My
mind is made up to _that_"
"Well, dear, many are happy that never marry--many women are happier
than those that do. Evert has a kind, manly, affectionate heart, and I
know will do all he can to prevent my regretting home; but we can never
have more than _one_ mother, Maud!"
Maud did not answer, though she looked surprised that Beulah should say
this to _her_.
"Evert has reasoned and talked so much to my father and mother,"
continued the _fiancee_, blushing, "that they have thought we had
better be married at once. Do you know, Maud, that it has been settled
this evening, that the ceremony is to take place to-morrow!"
"This is sudden, indeed, Beulah! Why have they determined on so
unexpected a thing?"
"It is all owing to the state of the country. I know not how he has
done it--but Evert has persuaded my father, that the sooner I am his
wife, the more secure we shall _all_ be, here at the Knoll."
"I hope you love Evert Beekman, dearest, dearest Beulah?"
"What a question, Maud! Do you suppose I could stand up before a
minister of God, and plight my faith to a man I did not love?--Why have
you seemed to doubt it?"
"I do not doubt it--I am very foolish, for I know you are conscientious
as the saints in heaven--and yet, Beulah, I think _I_ could scarce
be so tranquil about one I loved."
The gentle Beulah smiled, but she no longer felt uneasiness. She
understood the impulses and sentiments of her own pure but tranquil
nature too well, to distrust herself; and she could easily imagine that
Maud would not be as composed under similar circumstances.
"Perhaps it is well, sister of mine," she answered laughing, though
blushing, "that you are so resolved to remain single; for one hardly
knows where to find a suitor sufficiently devoted and ethereal for your
taste. No one pleased you last winter, though the least encouragement
would have Brought a dozen to your feet; and here there is no one you
can possibly have, unless it be dear, good, old Mr. Woods."
Maud compressed her lips, and really looked stern, so determined was
she to command herself; then she answered somewhat in her sister's
"It is very true," she said, "there is no hero for me to accept, unless
it be dear Mr. Woods; and he, poor man, has had one wife that cured him
of any desire to possess another, they say."
"Mr. Woods! I never knew that he was married. Who can have told you
"I got it from Robert"--answered the other, hesitating a little. "He
was talking one day of such things."
"What things, dear?"
"Why--of getting married--I believe it was about marrying relatives--or
connections--or, some such thing; for Mr. Woods married a cousin-
german, it would seem--and so he told me all about it. Bob was old
enough to know his wife, when she died. Poor man, she led him a hard
life--he must be far from the Knoll, by this time, Beulah!"
"Mr. Woods!--I left him with papa, a few minutes since, talking over
the ceremony for to-morrow!"
"I meant Bob----"
Here the sisters caught each other's eyes, and both blushed,
consciousness presenting to them, at the same instant, the images that
were uppermost in their respective minds. But, no more was said. They
continued their employments in silence, and soon each was kneeling in
The following day, Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby were married.
The ceremony took place, immediately after breakfast, in the little
chapel; no one being present but the relatives, and Michael O'Hearn,
who quieted his conscience for not worshipping with the rest of the
people, by acting as their sexton. The honest county Leitrim man was
let into the secret--as a great secret, however--at early dawn; and he
had the place swept and in order in good season, appearing in his
Sunday attire to do honour to the occasion, as he thought became him.
A mother as tender as Mrs. Willoughby, could not resign the first claim
on her child, without indulging her tears, Maud wept, too; but it was
as much in sympathy for Beulah's happiness, as from any other cause.
The marriage in other respects, was simple, and without any
ostentatious manifestations of feeling. It was, in truth, one of those
rational and wise connections, which promise to wear well, there being
a perfect fitness, in station, wealth, connections, years, manners and
habits, between the parties. Violence was done to nothing, in bringing
this discreet and well-principled couple together. Evert was as worthy
of Beulah, as she was worthy of him. There was confidence in the
future, on every side; and not a doubt, or a misgiving of any sort,
mingled with the regrets, if regrets they could be called, that were,
in some measure, inseparable from the solemn ceremony.
The marriage was completed, the affectionate father had held the
weeping but smiling bride on his bosom, the tender mother had folded
her to her heart, Maud had pressed her in her arms in a fervent
embrace, and the chaplain had claimed his kiss, when the well-meaning
"Is it the likes of yees I wish well to!" said Mike--"Ye may well say
_that_; and to yer husband, and childer, and all that will go
before, and all that have come after ye! I know'd ye, when ye was
mighty little, and that was years agone; and niver have I seen a cross
look on yer pretthy face. I've app'inted to myself, many's the time, a
consait to tell ye all this, by wor-r-d of mouth; but the likes of
yees, and of the Missus, and of Miss Maud there--och! isn't she a swate
one! and many's the pity, there's no sich tall, handsome jontleman to
take _her_, in the bargain, bad luck to him for staying away; and
so God bless ye, all, praist in the bargain, though he's no praist at
all; and here's my good wishes said and done."
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