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   Chapter 6 No.6

Wyandotte By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 37329

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


O! It is great for our country to die, where ranks are contending;

Bright is the wreath of our fame; Glory awaits us for aye--

Glory, that never is dim, shining on with light never ending--

Glory, that never shall fade, never, O! never away.

Percival.

Notwithstanding the startling intelligence that had so unexpectedly reached it, and the warm polemical conflict that had been carried on within its walls, the night passed peacefully over the roof of the Hutted Knoll. At the return of dawn, the two Plinys, both the Smashes, and all the menials were again afoot; and, ere long, Mike, Saucy Nick Joel, and the rest were seen astir, in the open fields, or in the margin of the woods. Cattle were fed, cows milked fires lighted, and everything pursued its course, in the order of May. The three wenches, as female negroes were then termed, ex officio, in America, opened their throats, as was usual at that hour, and were heard singing at their labours, in a way nearly to deaden the morning carols of the tenants of the forest. Mari' in particular, would have drowned the roar of Niagara. The captain used to call her his clarion.

In due time, the superiors of the household made their appearance. Mrs. Willoughby was the first out of her room, as was ever the case when there was anything to be done. On the present occasion, the "fatted calf" was to be killed, not in honour of the return of a prodigal son, however, but in behalf of one who was the pride of her eyes, and the joy of her heart. The breakfast that she ordered was just the sort of breakfast, that one must visit America to witness. France can set forth a very scientific déjeuner à la fourchette, and England has laboured-and ponderous imitations; but, for the spontaneous, superabundant, unsophisticated, natural, all-sufficing and all-subduing morning's meal, take America, in a better-class house, in the country, and you reach the ne plus ultra, in that sort of thing. Tea, coffee, and chocolate, of which the first and last were excellent, and the second respectable; ham, fish, eggs, toast, cakes, rolls, marmalades, &c. &c. &c., were thrown together in noble confusion; frequently occasioning the guest, as Mr. Woods naively confessed, an utter confusion of mind, as to which he was to attack, when all were inviting and each would be welcome.

Leaving Mrs. Willoughby in deep consultation with Mari' on the subject of this feast, we will next look after the two sweet girls whom we so abruptly deserted in the last chapter. When Maud's glowing cheeks were first visible that morning, signs of tears might have been discovered on them, as the traces of the dew are found on the leaf of the rose; but they completely vanished under the duties of the toilet, and she came forth from her chamber, bright and cloudless as the glorious May-morning, which had returned to cheer the solitude of the manor. Beulah followed, tranquil, bland and mild as the day itself, the living image of the purity of soul, and deep affections, of her honest nature.

The sisters went into the breakfast-room, where they had little lady-like offices of their own to discharge, too, in honour of the guest; each employing herself in decorating the table, and in seeing that it wanted nothing in the proprieties As their pleasing tasks were fulfilled, the discourse did not flag between them. Nothing, however, had been said, that made the smallest allusion to the conversation of the past night. Neither felt any wish to revive that subject; and, as for Maud, bitterly did she regret ever having broached it. At times, her cheeks burned with blushes, as she recalled her words; and yet she scarce knew the reason why. The feeling of Beulah was different. She wondered her sister could ever think she was a Meredith, and not a Willoughby. At times she feared some unfortunate oversight of her own, some careless allusion, or indiscreet act, might have served to remind Maud of the circumstances of her real birth. Yet there was nothing in the last likely to awaken unpleasant reflections, apart from the circumstance that she was not truly a child of the family into which she had been transplanted. The Merediths were, at least, as nonourable a family as the Willoughbys, in the ordinary worldly view of the matter; nor was Maud, by any means, a dependant, in the way of money. Five thousand pounds, in the English funds, had been settled on her, by the marriage articles of her parents; and twenty years of careful husbandry, during which every shilling had been scrupulously devoted to accumulation, had quite doubled the original amount. So far from being penniless, therefore, Maud's fortune was often alluded to by the captain, in a jocular way, as if purposely to remind her that she had the means of independence, and duties connected with it. It is true, Maud, herself, had no suspicion that she had been educated altogether by her "father," and that her own money had not been used for this purpose. To own the truth, she thought little about it; knew little about it, beyond the fact, that she had a fortune of her own, into the possession of which she must step, when she attained her majority. How she came by it, even, was a question she never asked though there were moments when tender regrets and affectionate melancholy would come over her heart, as she thought of her natural parents, and of their early deaths. Still, Maud implicitly reposed on the captain and Mrs. Willoughby, as on a father and mother; and it was not owing to them, or anything connected with their love, treatment, words, or thoughts, that she was reminded that they were not so in very fact, as well as in tenderness.

"Bob will think you made these plum sweetmeats, Beulah," said Maud, with a saucy smile, as she placed a glass plate on the table--"He never thinks I can make anything of this sort; and, as he is so fond of plums, he will be certain to taste them; then you will come in for the praise!"

"You appear to think, that praise he must. Perhaps he may not fancy them good."

"If I thought so, I would take them away this instant," cried Maud, standing in the attitude of one in doubt. "Bob does not think much of such things in girls, for he says ladies need not be cooks; and yet when one does make a thing of this sort, one would certainly like to have it well made."

"Set your heart at ease, Maud; the plums are delicious--much the best we ever had, and we are rather famous for them, you know. I'll answer for it, Bob will pronounce them the best he has ever tasted."

"And if he shouldn't, why should I care--that is, not very much--about it. You know they are the first I ever made, and one may be permitted to fail on a first effort. Besides, a man may go to England, and see fine sights, and live in great houses, and all that, and not understand when he has good plum sweetmeats before him, and when bad. I dare say there are many colonels in the army, who are ignorant on this point."

Beulah laughed, and admitted the truth of the remark; though, in her secret mind, she had almost persuaded herself that Bob knew everything.

"Do you not think our brother improved in appearance, Maud," she asked, after a short pause. "The visit to England has done him that service, at least."

"I don't see it, Beulah--I see no change. To me, Bob is just the same to-day, that he has ever been; that is, ever since he grew to be a man--with boys, of course, it is different. Ever since he was made a captain, I mean."

As major Willoughby had reached that rank the day he was one-and-twenty, the reader can understand the precise date when Maud began to take her present views of his appearance and character.

"I am surprised to hear you say so, Maud! Papa says he is better 'set up,' as he calls it, by his English drill, and that he looks altogether more like a soldier than he did."

"Bob has always had a martial look!" cried Maud, quickly--"He got that in garrison, when a boy."

"If so, I hope he may never lose it!" said the subject of the remark, himself, who had entered the room unperceived, and overheard this speech. "Being a soldier, one would wish to look like what he is, my little critic."

The kiss that followed, and that given to Beulah, were no more than the usual morning salutations of a brother to his sisters, slight touches of rosy cheeks; and yet Maud blushed; for, as she said to herself, she had been taken by surprise.

"They say listeners never hear good of themselves," answered Maud, with a vivacity that betokened confusion. "Had you come a minute sooner, master Bob, it might have been an advantage."

"Oh! Beulah's remarks I do not fear; so long as I get off unscathed from yours, Miss Maud, I shall think myself a lucky fellow. But what has brought me and my training into discussion, this morning?"

"It is natural for sisters to speak about their brother after so long----"

"Tell him nothing about it, Beulah," interrupted Maud. "Let him listen, and eaves-drop, and find out as he may, if he would learn our secrets. There, major Willoughby, I hope that is a promise of a breakfast, which will satisfy even your military appetite!"

"It looks well, indeed, Maud--and there, I perceive, are some of Beulah's excellent plums, of which I am so fond--know they were made especially for me, and I must kiss you, sister, for this proof of remembrance."

Beulah, to whose simple mind it seemed injustice to appropriate credit that belonged to another, was about to tell the truth; but an imploring gesture from her sister induced her to smile, and receive the salute in silence.

"Has any one seen captain Willoughby and parson Woods this morning?" inquired the major. "I left them desperately engaged in discussion, and I really feel some apprehension as to the remains left on the field of battle."

"Here they both come," cried Maud, glad to find the discourse taking so complete a change; "and there is mamma, followed by Pliny, to tell Beulah to take her station at the coffee, while I go to the chocolate, leaving the tea to the only hand that can make it so that my father will drink it."

The parties mentioned entered the room, in the order named; the usual salutations followed, and all took their seats at table. Captain Willoughby was silent and thoughtful at first, leaving his son to rattle on, in a way that betokened care, in his view of the matter, quite as much as it betokened light-heartedness in those of his mother and sisters. The chaplain was rather more communicative than his friend; but he, too, seemed restless, and desirous of arriving at some point that was not likely to come uppermost, in such a family party. At length, the impulses of Mr. Woods got the better of his discretion, even, and he could conceal his thoughts no longer.

"Captain Willoughby," he said, in a sort of apologetic, and yet simple and natural manner, "I have done little since we parted, seven hours since, but think of the matter under discussion."

"If you have, my dear Woods, there has been a strong sympathy between us; I have scarcely slept. I may say I have thought of nothing else, myself, and am glad you have broached the subject, again."

"I was about to say, my worthy sir, that reflection, and my pillow, and your sound and admirable arguments, have produced an entire change in my sentiments. I think, now, altogether with you."

"The devil you do, Woods!" cried the captain, looking up from his bit of dry toast, in astonishment. "Why, my dear fellow--this is odd--excessively odd, if the truth must be said.--To own the real state of the case, chaplain, you have won me over, and I was just about to make proper acknowledgments of your victory!"

It need scarcely be added that the rest of the company were not a little amazed at these cross-concessions, while Maud was exceedingly amused. As for Mrs. Willoughby, nothing laughable ever occurred in connection with her husband; and then she would as soon think of assailing the church itself, as to ridicule one of its ministers. Beulah could see nothing but what was right in her father, at least; and, as for the major, he felt too much concerned at this unexpected admission of his father's, to perceive anything but the error.

"Have you not overlooked the injunction of scripture, my excellent friend?" rejoined the chaplain. "Have you left to the rights of C?sar, all their weight and authority? 'The king's name is a tower of strength.'"

"Have not you, Woods, forgotten the superior claims of reason and right, over those of accident and birth--that man is to be considered as a reasoning being, to be governed by principles and ever-varying facts, and not a mere animal left to the control of an instinct that perishes with its usefulness?"

"What can they mean, mother?" whispered Maud, scarce able to repress the laughter that came so easily to one with a keen sense of the ludicrous.

"They have been arguing about the right of parliament to tax the colonies, I believe, my dear, and over-persuaded each other, that's all. It is odd, Robert, that Mr. Woods should convert your father."

"No, my dearest mother, it is something even more serious than that." By this time, the disputants, who sat opposite each other, were fairly launched into the discussion, again, and heeded nothing that passed--"No, dearest mother, it is far worse than even that. Pliny, tell my man to brush the hunting-jacket--and, see he has his breakfast, in good style--he is a grumbling rascal, and will give the house a bad character, else--you need not come back, until we ring for you--yes, mother, yes dearest girls, this is a far more serious matter than you suppose, though it ought not to be mentioned idly, among the people. God knows now they may take it--and bad news flies swift enough, of itself."

"Merciful Providence!" exclaimed Mrs. Willoughby-"What can you mean, my son?"

"I mean, mother, that civil war has actually commenced in the colonies, and that the people of your blood and race are, in open arms, against the people of my father's native country--in a word, against me."

"How can that be, Robert? Who would dare to strike a blow against the king?"

"When men get excited, and their passions are once inflamed, they will do much, my mother, that they might not dream of, else."

"This must be a mistake! Some evil-disposed person has told you this, Robert, knowing your attachment to the crown."

"I wish it were so, dear madam; but my own eyes have seen--I may say my own flesh has felt, the contrary."

The major then related what had happened, letting his auditors into the secret of the true state of the country. It is scarcely necessary to allude to the degree of consternation and pain, with which he was heard, or to the grief which succeeded.

"You spoke of yourself, dear Bob," said Maud, naturally, and with strong feeling--"You were not hurt, in this cruel, cruel battle."

"I ought not to have mentioned it, although I did certainly receive a smart contusion--nothing more, I assure you--here in the shoulder, and it now scarcely inconveniences me."

By this time all were listening, curiosity and interest having silenced even the disputants, especially as this was the first they had heard of the major's casualty. Then neither felt the zeal which had warmed him in the previous contest, but was better disposed to turn aside from its pursuit.

"I hope it did not send you to the rear, Bob?" anxiously inquired the father.

"I was in the rear, sir, when I got the hurt," answered the major, laughing. "The rear is the post of honour, on a retreat, you know, my dear father; and I believe our march scarce deserves another name."

"That is hard, too, on king's troops! What sort of fellows had you to oppose, my son?"

"A rather intrusive set, sir. Their object was to persuade us to go into Boston, as fast as possible; and, it was a little difficult, at times, not to listen to their arguments. If my Lord Percy had not come out, with a strong party, and two pieces of artillery, we might not have stood it much longer. Our men were fagged like hunted deer, and the day proved oppressively hot."

"Artillery, too!" exclaimed the captain, his military pride reviving a little, to unsettle his last convictions of duty. "Did you open your columns, and charge your enemies, in line?"

"It would have been charging air. No sooner did we halt, than our foes dispersed; or, no sooner did we renew the march, than every line of wall, along our route, became a line of hostile muskets. I trust you will do us justice, sir--you know the regiments, and can scarce think they misbehaved."

"British troops seldom do that; although I have known it happen. No men, however, are usually more steady, and then these provincials are formidable as skirmishers. In that character, I know them, too. What has been the effect of all this on the country, Bob?--You told us something of it last night; complete the history."

"The provinces are in a tumult. As for New England, a flame of fire could scarce be more devastating; though I think this colony is less excited. Still, here, men are arming in thousands."

"Dear me--dear me"--ejaculated the peacefully-inclined chaplain--"that human beings can thus be inclined to self destruction!"

"Is Tryon active?--What do the royal authorities, all this time?"

"Of course they neglect nothing feasible; but, they must principally rely on the loyalty and influence of the gentry, until succour can arrive from Europe. If that fail them, their difficulties will be much increased."

Captain Willoughby understood his son; he glanced towards his unconscious wife, as if to see how far she felt with him.

"Our own families are divided, of course, much as they have been in the previous discussions," he added. "The De Lanceys, Van Cortlandts, Philipses, Bayards, and most of that town connection, with a large portion of the Long Island families, I should think, are with the crown; while the Livingstons, Morrises, Schuylers, Rensselaers, and their friends, go with the colony. Is not this the manner in which they are divided?"

"With some limitations, sir. All the De Lanceys, with most of their strong connections and influence, are with us--with the king, I mean--while all the Livingstons and Morrises are against us. The other families are divided--as with the Cortlandts, Schuylers, and Rensselaers. It is fortunate for the Patroon, that he is a boy."

"Why so, Bob?" asked the captain, looking inquiringly up, at his son.

"Simply, sir, that his great estate may not be confiscated. So many of his near conn

ections are against us, that he could hardly escape the contamination; and the consequences would be inevitable."

"Do you consider that so certain, sir? As there are two sides to the question, may there not be two results to the war?"

"I think not, sir. England is no power to be defied by colonies insignificant as these."

"This is well enough for a king's officer, major Willoughby; but all large bodies of men are formidable when they are right, and nations--these colonies are a nation, in extent and number--are not so easily put down, when the spirit of liberty is up and doing among them."

The major listened to his father with pain and wonder. The captain spoke earnestly, and there was a flush about his fine countenance, that gave it sternness and authority. Unused to debate with his father, especially when the latter was in such a mood, the son remained silent, though his mother, who was thoroughly loyal in her heart--meaning loyal as applied to a sovereign--and who had the utmost confidence in her husband's tenderness and consideration for herself, was not so scrupulous.

"Why, Willoughby," she cried, "you really incline to rebellion! I, even I, who was born in the colonies, think them very wrong to resist their anointed king, and sovereign prince."

"Ah, Wilhelmina," answered the captain, more mildly, "you have a true colonist's admiration of home. But I was old enough, when I left England, to appreciate what I saw and knew, and cannot feel all this provincial admiration."

"But surely, my dear captain, England is a very great country," interrupted the chaplain--"a prodigious country; one that can claim all our respect and love. Look at the church, now, the purified continuation of the ancient visible authority of Christ on earth! It is the consideration of this church that has subdued my natural love of birth-place, and altered my sentiments."

"All very true, and all very well, in your mouth, chaplain; yet even the visible church may err. This doctrine of divine right would have kept the Stuarts on the throne, and it is not even English doctrine; much less, then, need it be American. I am no Cromwellian, no republican, that wishes to oppose the throne, in order to destroy it. A good king is a good thing, and a prodigious blessing to a country; still, a people needs look to its political privileges if it wish to preserve them. You and I will discuss this matter another time, parson. There will be plenty of opportunities," he added, rising, and smiling good-humouredly; "I must, now, call my people together, and let them know this news. It is not fair to conceal a civil war."

"My dear sir!" exclaimed the major, in concern--"are you not wrong?--precipitate, I mean--Is it not better to preserve the secret, to give yourself time for reflection--to await events?--I can discover no necessity for this haste. Should you see things differently, hereafter, an incautious word uttered at this moment might bring much motive for regret."

"I have thought of all this, Bob, during the night--for hardly did I close my eyes--and you cannot change my purpose. It is honest to let my people know how matters stand; and, so far from being hazardous, as you seem to think, I consider it wise. God knows what time will bring forth; but, in every, or any event, fair-dealing can scarcely injure him who practises it. I have already sent directions to have the whole settlement collected on the lawn, at the ringing of the bell, and I expect every moment we shall hear the summons."

Against this decision there was no appeal. Mild and indulgent as the captain habitually was, his authority was not to be disputed, when he chose to exercise it. Some doubts arose, and the father participated in them, for a moment, as to what might be the effect on the major's fortunes; for, should a very patriotic spirit arise among the men, two-thirds of whom were native Americans, and what was more, from the eastern colonies, he might be detained; or, at least, betrayed on his return, and delivered into the hands of the revolted authorities. This was a very serious consideration, and it detained the captain in the house, some time after the people were assembled, debating the chances, in the bosom of his own family.

"We exaggerate the danger," the captain, at length, exclaimed. "Most of these men have been with me for years, and I know not one among them who I think would wish to injure me, or even you, my son, in this way. There is far more danger in attempting to deceive them, than in making them confidants. I will go out and tell the truth; then we shall, at least, have the security of self-approbation. If you escape the danger of being sold by Nick, my son, I think you have little to fear from any other."

"By Nick!" repeated half-a-dozen voices, in surprise--Surely, father--surely, Willoughby--surely, my dear captain, you cannot suspect as old and tried a follower, as the Tuscarora!"

"Ay, he is an old follower, certainly, and he has been punished often enough, if he has not been tried. I have never suffered my distrust of that fellow to go to sleep--it is unsafe, with an Indian, unless you have a strong hold on his gratitude."

"But, Willoughby, he it was who found this manor for us," rejoined the wife. "Without him, we should never have been the owners of this lovely place, this beaver-dam, and all else that we so much enjoy."

"True, my dear; and without good golden guineas, we should not have had Nick."

"But, sir, I pay as liberally as he can wish," observed the major. "If bribes will buy him, mine are as good as another's."

"We shall see--under actual circumstances, I think we shall be, in every respect, safer, by keeping nothing back, than by telling all to the people."

The captain now put on his hat, and issued through the undefended gateway, followed by every individual of his family. As the summons had been general, when the Willoughbys and the chaplain appeared on the lawn, every living soul of that isolated settlement, even to infants in the arms, was collected there. The captain commanded the profound respect of all his dependants, though a few among them did not love him. The fault was not his, however, but was inherent rather in the untoward characters of the disaffected themselves. His habits of authority were unsuited to their habits of a presuming equality, perhaps; and it is impossible for the comparatively powerful and affluent to escape the envy and repinings of men, who, unable to draw the real distinctions that separate the gentleman from the low-minded and grovelling, impute their advantages to accidents and money. But, even the few who permitted this malign and corrupting tendency to influence their feelings, could not deny that their master was just and benevolent, though he did not always exhibit this justice and benevolence precisely in the way best calculated to soothe their own craving self-love, and exaggerated notions of assumed natural claims. In a word, captain Willoughby, in the eyes of a few unquiet and bloated imaginations among his people, was obnoxious to the imputation of pride; and this because he saw and felt the consequences of education, habits, manners, opinions and sentiments that were hidden from those who not only had no perception of their existence, but who had no knowledge whatever of the qualities that brought them into being. Pope's familiar line of "what can we reason but from what we know?" is peculiarly applicable to persons of this class; who are ever for dragging all things down to standards created by their own ignorance; and who, slaves of the basest and meanest passions, reason as if they were possessors of all the knowledge, sensibilities and refinements of their own country and times. Of this class of men, comes the ordinary demagogue, a wretch equally incapable of setting an example of any of the higher qualities, in his own person or practice, and of appreciating it when exhibited by others. Such men abound under all systems where human liberty is highly privileged, being the moral fungi of freedom, as the rankest weeds are known to be the troublesome and baneful productions of the richest soils.

It was no unusual thing for the people of the Hutted Knoll to be collected, in the manner we have described. We are writing of a period, that the present enlightened generation is apt to confound with the darker ages of American knowledge, in much that relates to social usages at least, though it escaped the long-buried wisdom of the Mormon bible, and Miller's interpretations of the prophecies. In that day, men were not so silly as to attempt to appear always wise; but some of the fêtes and festivals of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were still tolerated among us; the all-absorbing and all-swallowing jubilee of "Independence-day" not having yet overshadowed everything else in the shape of a holiday. Now, captain Willoughby had brought with him to the colonies the love of festivals that is so much more prevalent in the old world than in the new; and it was by no means an uncommon thing for him to call his people together, to make merry on a birth-day, or the anniversary of some battle in which he had been one of the victors. When he appeared on the lawn, on the present occasion, therefore, it was expected he was about to meet them with some such announcement.

The inhabitants of the manor, or the estate of the Hutted Knoll, might be divided into three great physical, and we might add moral categories, or races, viz: the Anglo-Saxon, the Dutch, both high and low, and the African. The first was the most numerous, including the families of the millers, most of the mechanics, and that of Joel Strides, the land-overseer; the second was composed chiefly of labourers; and the last were exclusively household servants, with the exception of one of the Plinys, who was a ploughman, though permitted to live with his kinsfolk in the Hut. These divisions, Maud, in one of her merry humours, had nick-named the three tribes; while her father, to make the enumeration complete, had classed the serjeant, Mike, and Jamie Allen, as supernumeraries.

The three tribes, and the three supernumeraries, then, were all collected on the lawn, as the captain and his family approached. By a sort of secret instinct, too, they had divided themselves into knots, the Dutch keeping a little aloof from the Yankees; and the blacks, almost as a matter of religion, standing a short distance in the rear, as became people of their colour, and slaves. Mike and Jamie, however, had got a sort of neutral position, between the two great divisions of the whites, as if equally indifferent to their dissensions or antipathies. In this manner all parties stood, impatiently awaiting an announcement that had been so long delayed. The captain advanced to the front, and removing his hat, a ceremony he always observed on similar occasions, and which had the effect to make his listeners imitate his own courtesy, he addressed the crowd.

"When people live together, in a wilderness like this," commenced the captain, "there ought to be no secrets between them, my friends, in matters that touch the common interests. We are like men on a remote island; a sort of colony of our own; and we must act fairly and frankly by each other. In this spirit, then, I am now about to lay before you, all that I know myself, concerning an affair of the last importance to the colonies, and to the empire." Here Joel pricked up his ears, and cast a knowing glance at 'the miller,' a countryman and early neighbour of his own, who had charge of the grinding for the settlement, and who went by that appellation 'par excellence!' "You all know," continued the captain, "that there have been serious difficulties between the colonies and parliament, now, for more than ten years; difficulties that have been, once or twice, partially settled, but which have as often broken out, in some new shape, as soon as an old quarrel was adjusted."

Here the captain paused a moment; and Joel, who was the usual spokesman of 'the people,' took an occasion to put a question.

"The captain means, I s'pose," he said, in a sly, half-honest, half-jesuitical manner, "the right of parliament to tax us Americans, without our own consent, or our having any members in their legyslatoore?"

"I mean what you say. The tax on tea, the shutting the port of Boston, and other steps, have brought larger bodies of the king's troops among us, than have been usual. Boston, as you probably know, has had a strong garrison, now, for some months. About six weeks since, the commander-in-chief sent a detachment out as far as Concord, in New Hampshire, to destroy certain stores. This detachment had a meeting with the minute-men, and blood was drawn. A running fight ensued, in which several hundreds have been killed and wounded; and I think I know both sides sufficiently well, to predict that a long and bloody civil war is begun. These are facts you should know, and accordingly I tell them to you."

This simple, but explicit, account was received very differently, by the different listeners. Joel Strides leaned forward, with intense interest, so as not to lose a syllable. Most of the New Englanders, or Yankees, paid great attention, and exchanged meaning glances with each other, when the captain had got through. As for Mike, he grasped a shillelah that he habitually carried, when not at work, looking round, as if waiting for orders from the captain, on whom to begin. Jamie was thoughtful and grave, and, once or twice, as the captain proceeded, he scratched his head in doubt. The Dutch seemed curious, but bewildered, gaping at each other like men who might make up their minds, if you would give them time, but who certainly had not yet. As for the blacks, their eyes began to open like saucers, when they heard of the quarrel; when it got to the blows, their mouths were all grinning with the delight of a thing so exciting. At the mention of the number of the dead, however, something like awe passed over them, and changed their countenances to dismay. Nick alone was indifferent. By the cold apathy of his manner, the captain saw at once that the battle of Lexington had not been a secret to the Tuscarora, when he commenced his own account. As the captain always encouraged a proper familiarity in his dependants, he now told them he was ready to answer any questions they might think expedient to put to him, in gratification of their natural curiosity.

"I s'pose this news comes by the major?" asked Joel.

"You may well suppose that, Strides. My son is here, and we have no other means of getting it."

"Will yer honour be wishful that we shoulther our fire-arms, and go out and fight one of them sides, or t'other?" demanded Mike.

"I wish nothing of the sort, O'Hearn. It will be time enough for us to take a decided part, when we get better ideas of what is really going on."

"Doesn't the captain, then, think matters have got far enough towards a head, for the Americans to make up their minds conclusively, as it might be?" put in Joel, in his very worst manner.

"I think it will be wiser for us all to remain where we are, and as we are. Civil war is a serious matter, Strides, And no man should rush blindly into its dangers and difficulties."

Joel looked at the miller, and the miller looked at Joel. Neither said anything, however, at the time. Jamie Allen had been out in the 'forty-five,' when thirty years younger than he was that day; and though he had his predilections and antipathies, circumstances had taught him prudence.

"Will the parliament, think ye, no be bidding the soldiery to wark their will on the puir unairmed folk, up and down the country, and they not provided with the means to resist them?"

"Och, Jamie!" interrupted Mike, who did not appear to deem it necessary to treat this matter with even decent respect--"where will be yer valour and stomach, to ask sich a question as that! A man is always reathy, when he has his ar-r-ms and legs free to act accorthing to natur'. What would a rigiment of throops do ag'in the likes of sich a place as this? I'm sure it's tin years I've been in it, and I've niver been able to find my way out of it. Set a souldier to rowing on the lake forenent the rising sun, with orders to get to the other ind, and a pretty job he 'd make of marching on that same! I knows it, for I've thried it, and it is not a new beginner that will make much of sich oare; barring he knows nothin' about them."

This was not very intelligible to anybody but Joel, and he had ceased to laugh at Mike's voyage, now, some six or seven years; divers other disasters, all having their origin in a similar confusion of ideas, having, in the interval, supplanted that calamity, as it might be, seriatim. Still it was an indication that Mike might be set down as a belligerent, who was disposed to follow his leader into the battle, without troubling him with many questions concerning the merits of the quarrel. Nevertheless, the county Leitrim-man acknowledged particular principles, all of which had a certain influence on his conduct, whenever he could get at them, to render them available. First and foremost, he cordially disliked a Yankee; and he hated an Englishman, both as an oppressor and a heretic; yet he loved his master and all that belonged to him. These were contradictory feelings, certainly; but Mike was all contradiction, both in theory and in practice.

The Anglo-Saxon tribe now professed a willingness to retire, promising to think of the matter, a course against which Mike loudly protested, declaring he never knew any good come of thinking, when matters had got as far as blows. Jamie, too, went off scratching his head, and he was seen to make many pauses, that day, between the shovels-full of earth he, from time to time, threw around his plants, as if pondering on what he had heard. As for the Dutch, their hour had not come. No one expected them to decide the day they first heard of argument.

The negroes got together, and began to dwell on the marvels of a battle in which so many Christians had been put to death. Little Smash placed the slain at a few thousands; but Great Smash, as better became her loftier appellation and higher spirit, affirmed that the captain had stated hundreds of thousands; a loss, with less than which, as she contended, no great battle could possibly be fought.

When the captain was housed, Serjeant Joyce demanded an audience; the object of which was simply to ask for orders, without the least reference to principles.

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