Selections from
Katy of Catoctin

George Alfred Townsend,
1841-1914

First electronic edition 2002
123,210 words, 855 Kb

Text scanned, encoded, and edited by
William C. Chase

Source:
KATY OF CATOCTIN
George Alfred Townsend
New York
D. Appleton and Company
1886

Editorial Declaration: Typography and running titles have not been preserved. Words and abbreviations in italics have been rendered as such without interpretation. Quotation marks, apostrophes, and dashes have been transcribed as numeric entities. “Soft” hyphens occurring at line breaks have been removed. “Soft” hyphens occurring at page breaks have been removed and the trailing part of the word placed on the preceding page. Typographical and punctuation inconsistencies have been retained except where misreadings might result. “Footnotes” have been placed at the end of or within paragraphs in order to accomodate scrolling text. Editorial revisions consist of abridgement, several editor’s notes at the beginning of chapters (and in one footnote), and the insertion of new paragraph breaks. The page numbers of the first edition (1884) appear within comment tags in the html source file.

    Pages or parts of pages appearing in the 1886 edition included in this edition:  4-23, 28-135, 144-66, 178-256, 259-61, 263-302, 304-17, 324-37, 339, 341-43, 346-61, 366-74, 380-83, 386-409, 411-12, 414-21, 423-27, 538-41, 565-66.


 

Selections from
KATY OF CATOCTIN

OR

THE CHAIN-BREAKERS

A NATIONAL ROMANCE

BY

GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND

“GATH”

AUTHOR OF “THE ENTAILED HAT,” “TALES OF THE CHESAPEAKE,” ETC.

Edited by
William C. Chase

First Electronic Edition
2002


TO
COLONEL JOHN HAY
WHOSE ACQUAINTANCE I MADE IN THE WHITE HOUSE,
WHERE THE PRESIDENT AND EMANCIPATOR
LAY DEAD.


PREFACE.

FROM the hour the author stood by the dead face of Abraham Lincoln, in the Executive Mansion at Washington, he has had the idea of writing a romance upon the conspiracy of Booth.

Like many such literary projects nursed by a journalist, this one had not only to be postponed, but finally to become a portion of a broader story, because too many of the actors in the tragedy still lived, and the mere crime presented no elevated moral to justify its embellishment.

Considering it, however, as one of a series of cumulative acts of violence committed upon or from the soil of Maryland during the conflict of Emancipation, the author felt not only an epic propriety to be in the theme, but it appealed to him as a descendant of Marylanders and one who had already, in his romance of “The Entailed Hat,” pictured the twin lobe of Maryland and the rise of the slave interest.

The temptation to paint the more picturesque Western Shore, from the old Catholic tide-water counties and the metropolitan life of Washington and Baltimore to the German valleys and the mountain battle-fields, was not to be dismissed, either by the sacrifice it would require, or from the delicacy of a generation still alive.

Experimenting with the subject, the author found such rapid changes taking place in all this region, in thought as well as in things, that he believed it would be next to impossible in twenty years more for any one to realize the society which came first into national notice when Booth made his hegira through it. Besides, the author’s stock of materials, made complete by visits and searches of nineteen years, required the interpretation of his own eye and hand.

He felt that, while to have written this book earlier would have been to speak too harshly and too narrowly of some agents in the crime, to postpone the composition longer would have been to remand it to mere antiquarian literature and lose the missionary use and the heartiness of adventure; for, when he knew Booth personally and saw his associates executed, the author was turning into twenty-five, and, when he unraveled the skein of Booth’s concealment and flight after the crime, the author was turning forty-four years. Voters had grown up in the interim who had been but tottling babes when the mighty war ceased with this sacrificial mass, and the President’s death ended the wild Maryland epic, of which the raid of John Brown, the Baltimore riots, Antietam battle, and the spy system in the old Potomac counties were elements.

Enough of all this was yet undiscovered to leave space for fancy to enliven the athletic game, and in one or two cases characters have been wholly invented, or rather made out of general types and conditions, to replace others not proper to be copied.

The author not only lived contemporary with the personages of his book, but he was an active traveler and sightseer with and among them. No natural scene is sketched in this book that did not dwell upon his sight, and he trusts that the impassioned scenes of action have been tinted in subordination to a national and human philosophy.

 

GAPLAND, MD., 1886.


 

CONTENTS
[chapter titles and numbers are those of the first edition (1886)]


CHAPTER I.

MOUNTAINEERS.

“MARYLAND is only a rim of shore, a shell of mountain, but all gold!”

So said Lloyd Quantrell, the gunner, looking down from the South Mountain upon Middletown or Catoctin Valley, an October Saturday in the year 1859.

The mellow light of afternoon touched or bathed the hundred farms, the bridges, barns, hamlets, stacks, corn-rows, brown woods, streams and stone walls, and with a fruity smell, as of cider-presses, seemed to come up the tone of bells ringing the Marylanders home from the labors of the week.

He saw the red and white spires of Middletown in the lap of the valley like its babe, and thought he saw, beyond its Catoctin Mountain knees, the father Frederick, the good old burgher, holding his devout fingers up, like index boards at the junction of his many pike roads.

Then fancy spread other terraces of Maryland, farther and farther on, like descending steps of gold and marble, beyond the hills of Sugarloaf and Linganore, to where Potomac and Patapsco blended their cascades and ocean-tides at the shrines of Washington and Baltimore.

Lloyd Quantrell’s dog put his nose in the air silently, looking also downward, as if he scented, with the pheasants of the mountain, the sea-fowl of the Chesapeake.

A train of cars was crossing the mouth of Catoctin Valley from the dark chasm of Harper’s Ferry, as the dog started back along the mountain-top, “pointing” for a bird; and when Lloyd had followed and fired at and missed the bird, he saw another view in the west, all flooded with the sunset — the plateau between the Antietam and Potomac, stretching in woodland or crystal to the North Mountain and the Conococheague.

Here, amid equal abundance, a wilder paradise extended, as if nature’s ruggedness had somewhat delayed the gardener hands of man.

Beneath Quantrell’s eye, to the left, a short, bold mountain intruded, which had begun a race with the South Mountain for the Pennsylvania line, but stopped in sight of the white clusters of settlement toward Hagerstown, discouraged at their beauty and multitude, like Balaam’s stride arrested by the Hebrew camps.

Between this, Elk Ridge (or Maryland Heights) Mountain, and his own, and in the narrow peninsula beyond, where the Potomac begged a passage to the Shenandoah, a few wild farms found lodgment, as if poor, fugitive, and hermit men had clung there to a funnel, and now their white log and plaster houses and decayed black barns, in the midst of small mountain orchards, sent up to Quantrell light spirals of smoke, or flame of burning brushwood, or bells of milch-cows tinkling in alder-copses.

Where these wild homes and startled spurs of mountain halted, the basin of the great Cumberland Valley fell away indistinctly, and Keedysville lay in the foreground, like a bunch of the American flag.

The colors in the landscape were gold, purple, chrome, and all varieties of autumnal blue and gray, and, as if they were mixed in a cup, the young Baltimore sportsman drank them in and pined to understand the delight: for the love of scenery yearns to become an art.

In all this patriotic prospect there was no responsive heart, and Lloyd Quantrell was still unbeloved.

New pulses had beat of late in him, and, like the hair upon his lip, sentiment had begun to grow: the idea of woman followed him about — of no one woman but of womankind, and in this glowing Eden of his native State the scenery seemed to lack a sympathetic spirit to reach up her white arms from the vale and cry: “Come down, my love, appointed for me; and I will make thy soul at rest, to enjoy every prospect, which, lonely, thou never canst!”

Beautiful, detached time of life! when, like a mote of the Italian poplar’s pollen blowing in the air to find the female cup, the souls of two young, destined people, yet unknown, solicit each other in the world.

The crude, destructive instincts of the young man were expressed aloud in his emotion between savagery and art:

“What would I do if all this was mine, on both sides of the mountain?” Lloyd Quantrell said. “Let me see! Why, I would clean out the whole region, like a Norman king, and make it a hunting park. All the wild beasts once here should return again — none but native American beasts, you bet! I would let them make their dens and shelters in these towns. The people would have to go — go West, I suppose — and then these stone, brick, and timber villages would decay, and we should have real American ruins in a few years. Too many Dutch are in this up-country for me! Instead of a lot of Dutchmen going to Baltimore market, we should have hunters sending down deer and bear. I would bring the buffaloes back from the West — for they used to herd here too, in the early day — and let them make dust, like an army, as they galloped before my hunters. The wolf should howl again, to make the mountains romantic. I would have grizzlies hug each other, panthers sneak away and prowl nearer again, and foxes should be protected, so that every day would be a morning chase. My castle I would put on the South Mountain, right here where I stand.”

He stopped, thinking what would a castle be without a lady. But in a minute his mind ran along with the vision:

“I think,” he resumed, “that I would not disturb the Dutch beauties, for I would need a few vassals, and, to reconcile these and give me society, I might marry one of them. Yes, she should be the rosiest of all. I would educate her and make her my baroness; Baroness of the Blue Ridge.”

As his thoughts, like the predatory hawk, flew back to a domestic nest and mate, Lloyd basked a moment in the soft, languorous vision of a settlement in life, till the dog whined and pointed, and, looking where it indicated, the gunner saw, in the edge of the woods, a few steps distant, a strange, primitive old man, accompanied by two young companions, watching him.

The apparition was more lean than tall, and dressed in dark woolens, cut almost Quaker fashion, and his waistcoat was buttoned nearly up to a leather stock around the tough whip-cords in his throat, which were revealed when he took his bushy gray beard in one hand and drew it aside, looking meantime at young Quantrell with a pair of severe, gray-blue eyes.

The intruder’s hair was brushed straight up from a rather low, receding forehead. He had a hawkish nose, and the beard which encircled his face, and would have fallen low upon his breast, stood outward at his chin like autumn brush against a rock.

“If this is your land, you don’t mind my gunning on it?” spoke Quantrell.

“It is not my land, sir,” answered the man, not finishing his searching look.

“Then I don’t see why you look at me so hard, friend, unless I have stolen something.”

“Are you from Virginia?” asked the man.

“No, I am from Maryland — from Baltimore.”

“You have been walking around this country three days!”

“There’s no law against that, old man. I have been shooting, what little there is, and picking a few fish out of the brooks. Have you been following me all the time?”

“I have seen you around my dwelling, sir, on two occasions, yesterday and the day before,” continued the mountaineer, “and you are here still.”

“Upon my word, friend, I don’t see why I shouldn’t pass your dwelling every day of my holiday here, particularly as I don’t know where it is!”

An idea crossed Lloyd Quantrell’s mind that there might be robbers in these mountains, and he gave a glance at the two other men.

They were young fellows, and, in appearance, were so nearly the same, that observing one, answered for both; of good height, spare-faced and sunburned, sallow, worn thin, and with long, dark hair and beards; mere rustics to look at, with some passing alertness of curiosity now, but too docile and gentle to retain a predatory purpose.

This time Lloyd Quantrell guessed that they might be an old preacher and his two sons, of Mennonite, or Dunker, or some mountain Dutch sect. But the nasal tone of the old man, and his bold, grave address, made Lloyd think again that he had seen such men bringing horses to Baltimore market from Ohio and the West.

The only sign of offensive warfare they possessed was a kind of spear of steel, like a broad, double-edged knife-blade, with a cross-piece or guard below, and carried upon a wooden pole by one of the younger persons.

“What have you there, my friend?” asked Quantrell, walking over freshly. “It looks like what we called at school ‘a gig,’ to spear suckers and pike.”

“I calkelate you hit it right the first time,” said the possessor, smiling agreeably.

“We live over beyond the Short Mountain there,” explained the other young man; “down on the river road to the ferry. Since we’ve been here, so few well-dressed strangers have gone past, that father was a little surprised at you — that’s all.”

“Then we are all Marylanders,” exclaimed Quantrell, “and I’m glad of that, because I have been lonesome for somebody to drink with me. Here’s a flask of old Needwood whisky, I know I can recommend! Age before beauty, pop!”

He extended the flask to the old man and winked at the boys.

“It’s something I never drank, sir, in my life,” spoke the firm old man, shaking his head.

Lloyd then turned to the boys.

“We’re not accustomed to it, friend,” said the elder of these, “but don’t let us interfere with you.”

Quantrell drank, and liked it so well that he drank twice, and then, laying down his gun and calling in his dog, he felt familiar and companionable with all men. He produced cigars and a fuse, and offered his cigar-case to the party.

“We’re unfortunate,” said the younger of the sons; “neither father nor we boys smoke, or use tobacco.”

“Sit down, anyway,” said the young man from the city; “there’s the habit of talk, that is common to all. What is your name? — Smith will do; anything to begin on.”

“You’re a good guesser. Smith is what it is,” spoke the old man, taking off his wool hat and stretching himself on the rocks and grass. “Isaac Smith — and yours?”

“Quantrell, of Baltimore.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Mr. Smith, “that is the name of one of the slave-dealers there!”

“Yes,” said Lloyd, reddening a little, “that’s unfortunately an uncle of mine. He’s managed, by the notoriety of the business, to have me identified pretty generally. It’s a business I shouldn’t go into — because it’s not a gentleman’s.”

The young men, as if interested, now stretched themselves on the mountain-slope, and the older man, changing his look to one more neighborly, said, in an impressive yet kind voice:

“Hardly a good Christian business, Mr. Quantrell! A business has got to be good, I think, sir, to insure any prosperity. If nobody could be found to trade in slaves, the evils of slavery would be small, because they would not be sent to great distances and worked up on the plantations. It would then not be profitable. Slavery in Maryland, except in two or three counties, is a trifling matter.”

“Yes,” said Lloyd, “it’s small, except in the tobacco counties, and they, as you have said, don’t seem to prosper. But I hope you ain’t an abolitionist, Mr. Smith?”

“Unfortunately, I am a slaveholder,” said Smith, straightforwardly.

“How many negroes have you got?”

“Six.”

“Why, pop,” answered Lloyd, familiarly, “you’re a man of property! What are negroes worth, up this way?”

“They’re higher than they will be, I think,” said Mr. Smith, reflectively.

Quantrell looked at the old man’s Judaic nose and wrinkled bridge thereof, and wad of grizzly hair above his grizzled, updrawn eyebrows, with the gray-blue eyes wide apart, cool and deep as frozen springs, and that mouth, which was like a fissure in granite, and again it seemed to the young man that there was something wild in Mr. Smith.

“Yet,” he reflected, “Smith is a man more substantial every way than he looks. Six negroes and a farm, and reasoning so rationally against his interests — and with religious views, too!”

“What are your politics, Smith?” asked Lloyd. “I’ll be frank with you, and tell you, I’m an American.”

“Why, so am I, Mr. Quantrell!”

“Shake hands on it, old fellow,” cried Lloyd, while the sons laughed aloud to see the city stranger’s open temperament pushing the acquaintance.

“I’m just keyed up on that,” repeated Lloyd, clasping Mr. Smith’s hands heartily, “for there are too many Dutch and Irish in this, our country. Down in Baltimore we have got them on the run. I’m a cock-robin!

“I don’t quite understand you, Mr. Quantrell. Is that a kind of fire company or political club?”

“You’ve got it, Smith! On every suitable occasion we turn out and have a parade, and go right through the foreign quarter, driving everything we see under cover. Our idea is that Americans are good enough to rule America!”

Mr. Smith reflected a minute, and said that good Americans ought to make the best rulers. “However,” he added, “Senator Broderick, of California, was an Irishman, I believe, and he has just been murdered, in a duel.”

“Well, he’s an Irishman’s son,” replied Lloyd; “he was born on the Potomac here, in the District of Columbia, and that’s almost as good as Maryland.”

“They killed him,” figured up Mr. Smith, in his deliberate, nasal way,” on the 18th of last month. It will be four weeks to-morrow night, Mr. Quantrell.”

At this, the plain, independent old man, as Lloyd began to think him, looked at his two sons, and they raised their eyes to him.

“Next Sunday night will be four weeks,” repeated Mr. Smith, still looking at his boys, “since David Broderick was killed by a judge, in a duel. The newspapers say his last dying words were, ‘They killed me because I was opposed to the extension of slavery and a corrupt Administration.’”

There was a look of queer import, Lloyd Quantrell thought, between those plain people; for, as if forgetful of himself, they continued observing each other with a sense of some strong coincidence.

At this moment Quantrell’s dog started and ran a little way down the mountain and “pointed” at some low saplings with his fine white and brown nose.

Lloyd took his gun and followed out of sight of his new companions, and finally saw a mourning-dove sitting in a leafless tree. He raised his piece and aimed, feeling it unworthy work to shoot a turtledove, but as he withdrew the gun his dog still “pointed,” as if ravenous after the day’s barren sport.

Quantrell waved his hand, intimating to the trained animal to seek to the right and farther on.

The dog, for a minute, obeyed the order, and then returned, and, with tail straight out and one leg lifted, “nosed” the solitary dove again and made a slight, whimpering entreaty.

“Well, Albion,” thought his master, “I must either disappoint you or the dove,” and he aimed again and shot the bird.

It was so soft-eyed and so harmless, and seemed to look with such love and suffering at him as it trembled in his hand in the convulsion of death, the red rill of blood making purpler its brown plumage — like the blood of Abel sinking in the ground — that Lloyd felt some self-accusation.

With the dead bird in his hand he walked back toward the place of conversation, where he was arrested at a cedar-tree by the singular posture of Smith and his sons.

The old man was standing with his hands stretched straight out and their palms together, his body drawn up and his beard pointing upward, as his head was thrown back; while his sons, still seated, had crawled nearer their father, and had dropped their beards, as if assisting in prayer.

In the greatest wonder, Lloyd Quantrell looked at this scene, and for a minute doubted, as is natural with all men in a very practical land, seeing silent human marvels in lonely places, whether he saw anything at all; if the mountain at this point were not enchanted, and these three serious mountaineers only appearances or illusions.

But he heard articulated sounds proceeding from that old man’s beard, and the word “Amen!” pronounced with respectful inclinations of their heads, by both his tough, grown sons.

A new feeling then suddenly rose upon young Quantrell’s imagination; for the first time he had a sense of parental influence, something he had never known — confidence, consultation, and parental respect and discipline between a father and sons.

Before him was such a scene: absolute community of thought, directed by a strong-willed, plain-hearted father, who held his matured sons in the leash of his integrity and morality, till they loved his magistracy, and were like women to his counsel and authority.

“Such sons exist no more where I have been,” thought Lloyd, “at least not in the life I have seen. There the restraint of sons is broken by their waywardness and rebellion in early boyhood, even if their fathers desire to control them, or are worthy to do so.”

He thought of his own self-loving father, without moral restraints himself, or ever a rebuke for his son’s indulgences.

At the crackle of his approaching feet, the old man, Smith, and his boys ceased their apparent devotion and turned their heads.

“Mr. Quantrell,” spoke the old man, again examining Lloyd piercingly, “we do a little surveying on the mountains, and that is why we found you in this unexpected spot. They tell me, sir, who have lived here longer than I have, that General Washington was the first surveyor of these parts, and surveyed Harper’s Ferry tract itself. But what have you been killing?”

He took in his hand the little bird, and looked at Lloyd as he had at first, with a severe, almost domineering examination, and tight jaws.

“I have no respect for any man who will shoot a little dove,” he remarked, in a cold, reproving tone.

His sons also looked rebuke, and one of them said:

“Mr. Quantrell, that wasn’t fair game!”

“No, I am ashamed of it,” spoke Lloyd Quantrell, frankly. “My dog pointed so obstinately that I killed the poor thing against my better will.”

“I will forgive you, young man,” exclaimed Smith, the elder, “on condition that, if you ever see a man going to kill another dove, you will reprove him, sir.”

“I will,” said Lloyd, blushing, “unless he already feels as mean as I do.”

“Father,” interposed the younger Smith, “it was an accident, I calkelate. He’s owned it like a man. Let us show him our favorite view of the valleys.”

They looked again over the Catoctin Valley, and also at the Hagerstown Valley, both softer, paler in the descending sunlight.

It seemed to Lloyd, when he recalled these scenes in later years, as if that sunset was the last vouchsafed the world of heavenly peace and blessing.


 

CHAPTER II.

THE LOOKER.

“FRIEND Smith,” exclaimed Lloyd Quantrell, “I was thinking to myself, just before we met, that if this high country of the Cumberland Valley, and the apron of it off here to the east, were all my property, I would make it a great baronial park, and stock it with nothing but American game collected from every State and Territory — a sort of Forest of Ardennes.”

Quantrell, who was a good singer, and of an unrestrained, hearty temperament, here recollected a bit of song, and without any ceremony raised his voice and sang, to the delight of Smith’s boys:

    “‘Under the greenwood tree,
       Who loves to lie with me,
       And tune his merry note
       Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
 Come hither, come hither, come hither:
       Here shall he see
       No enemy,
 But winter and rough weather.’

“Ha, ha, ha!” cried Lloyd, when he had ended, his melodious voice humanizing the place, and seeming to touch the younger son, whom the old man had addressed as Oliver, almost to tears, “that’s a song a friend of mine, a great young actor, sings like a real hunter. Now, if you and I and the boys here had control of this, we’d live like banished dukes. Is that your sentiment, Oliver?”

The young man with the sallow face and modest, sunken eyes, and careless hair and beard, put his brown hand to his throat, where there was a rising swelling, and said: “I think it is beautiful as it is. One log-house and — and my wife, would be enough for me.”

The old man, with a firm voice, interposed, glancing seriously at the son’s evident susceptibility to the song and the question.

“This is pretty scenery, gentlemen, and rich country,” he said, in a high, shrill tone, “and it delights the eye; but it fails to appeal to the mind, for the reason that history has not yet embellished it. Its great uses have not yet been perceived, I think. To grow grain and make butter and cheese, are agreeable to man; but even so fine a region as this can not compete with the great West in those respects — with Illinois, Iowa, and the Territory of Kansas. The political importance of the Alleghany Mountains far exceeds their agricultural importance. If I had been General Washington, and had his influence to locate the capital of the United States, I would have placed it behind the South Mountain, instead of in the clay gullies of the tide-water country.”

“O friend Smith,” cried Lloyd Quantrell, “there are too many Dutch up this way. They don’t know anything in the Dutch country but saving and slaving, and that would never do.”

“But hear father out, sir,” exclaimed the elder son. “He’s been a great reader and traveler. Father’s been to Europe!”

It was not common in 1859 to have “been to Europe,” and even the young Baltimorean looked at Smith with new interest.

The old man pointed over the valley with long fingers, his shoulders stooping a little, and his retreating forehead, hollow in the center, assisting the hawkness of his nose.

Lines of thought and an abstracted countenance marked his face while moving up and down and consulting the ground, but when he faced Lloyd Quantrell and his own sons, and gave them the full benefit of his steady and penetrating eyes, they felt that the narrow-shouldered, wiry old fellow must be a tall man.

He now took his beard in one hand, and with the other pointing over the autumnal-tinted plain and detached mountains, gazed out like some Hebrew seer.

“You want your political capital, gentlemen, where it has natural defenses against a military enemy, such as mountains interpose, and has population and agriculture enough to feed and defend it, and is also in a position to exert all its political influence with what I will call geographical directness on the country. The city of Washington can do nothing of that kind. It was easily taken and destroyed by a small army in the year 1814. Before it was established the people in its vicinity were getting their food from these German upland valleys. It has now no political influence at all, except a pernicious one, on the American people, having been governed for sixty years by the local ideas of two places — Richmond in Virginia and Baltimore in Maryland. Those cities were bound to influence it in the line of their very backward, or, as some say, conservative tendencies, because they received no other elements of population that lived around them in the old tide-water parts — people who continued to raise tobacco, catch herring, sell negroes, and marry their cousins. On the other hand, the country above the South Mountain ridge could subsist a very large population, and feed a large army, during repeated years of war. This mountain, with its natural ramparts, could be easily held by a few troops at the passes. The great valley behind it is the line of emigration and of easy communication from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, and, gentlemen, the inevitable line of war!”

Without paying attention to anybody, Smith reached out his hand and took the spear instrument from his son, and, gesturing with it against the blue air, looked to Quantrell to be a colossal and seedy school-master, illustrating a lecture on an enormous blackboard.

“It will cost more fighting men than can be levied from all that tide-water country,” he continued, “merely to protect the government and the public property located at the city of Washington. If the capital had been placed here, in the Cumberland Valley, it would have been able to launch armies against the enemy and protect itself from a perpetually flanking second army, moving up the valley and getting to the north of Washington. Here will the enemy invade once and again, and have the start in the race, and be deep in the resources and positions of your country before you can come up with him and make him turn and fight. I would remove the public effects from Washington. I would hold Baltimore to her allegiance by Fortress Monroe. I would take the valley of the Cumberland Mountains from them at the beginning, leaving them to scratch clay and eat fodder on the emaciated plains, and I would fight them from the west!”

“Crazy as a bedbug,” thought Lloyd Quantrell, a little awed, “and on the subject of the Revolutionary War.”

Sticking the fish-spear in the sward and apostrophizing it, Mr. Smith, now apparently aroused and in the depth of his subject, continued in the same plain, brief style of address:

“This is why God has established the Alleghany Mountains — for the refuge of his people! The geologist tells us that the first mountains in the world to be made were the Adirondacks. My schooling was all before these days of science, and I don’t just quite get the idea. But if it be so, that the first land to rise above the sea and give the raven foothold after the deluge was there, where our household affections look to-day” (he glanced at his sons), “even upon that Ararat, I was always thinking of my boyhood, when I was a tanner on these Alleghanies.

“Yes,” resumed Isaac Smith, after a pause, “in the year 1826 I was tanning leather near the spot where General Washington — at your ages now, and my age when I lived there — went on his long winter journey to stop the French at old Fort Le Bœuf. I used to look at the creek that supplied my vats, and wish I could follow it down to the Venango and the Alleghany, and ascend Washington’s path by the Monongahela to the mountains and cross them to the Potomac. I married there, and the desire of money arrested my dreams; but every energy I put out in that direction failed. At times great fortunes seemed within my grasp, but slipped from me. In Europe, where I went for business, I found my mind led to battle-fields and the study of war. I tried to drive the idea away, and regain my credit in the business of all my maturer life — grading and selling wool; for I could tell the difference in similar wools raised in different of our States if they were put in my hand in the dark! But the confused verses of Scripture would rise in my mind whenever I heard the military trumpets sound abroad: ‘He seeketh wool and worketh willingly, but all his household are clothed in scarlet!’”

“And now, old man,” exclaimed the irreverent Quantrell, “you think you are at last back in a good country!”

“Yes, Mr. Quantrell,” said Isaac Smith, soberly, “I am in the country of my destiny. I love this country, and hope it may be loved for me and my children.”

“You have made one mourner in advance, pop,” answered Lloyd. “I think you only need to have been born in a military age to have reached the consideration of Sam Houston or General Jackson. But, unfortunately, you could no more get these Dutch, up this way, to fight than teach them style.”

“We never can tell, gentlemen,” said Smith, “when war is, as you may say, at our elbow. I have been a great reader of the history of wars, particularly in the Old Testament. Most of the wars there recorded, were made by Moses, acting out the will of God. He led the Hebrews out of their bondage in Egypt and toward a land of promise. The people in that land, we may understand, had done no harm to Moses or his people. They existed as peaceably as the people of Virginia and Maryland, that we see from this elevation — working for the dollar and expecting no enemy whatever. But Moses, who was keeping his flocks on the back side of the desert, as we read, ‘went out on the mountain of God, even to Horeb,’ say the Scriptures. Something took him there not in the way of interest, perhaps not his desire. But there he heard his name called aloud from a burning bush, or heap of brush — ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here am I!’”

Lloyd Quantrell was again convinced that the Smith family were crazy.

As he recited this old bit of Scripture, with a slow, shrill, nasal cry, Isaac Smith folded his arms, closed his eyes, and dropped his head upon his beard and breast, standing there a moment speechless, and his sons, also taking his attitude, looked to the ground as if all three were again to pray together.

“‘Here am I, Lord, on thy mountain!’” repeated Isaac Smith with rising inflection, unfolding his arms and stretching them wide. His strong jaws closed a moment, as he slowly turned his head, and with a steady eye, looking into Lloyd’s, finished the sentence: “These were the words of Moses.”

Some picture of Moses that Lloyd had seen, probably in the old Bible of his mother’s family, was revived by the appearance of Isaac Smith at this moment. His nose would have been quite the Jew’s, but that it came to an end too bluntly. His eyes, at spells, turned inward, like a lost thinker’s, and his manner varied from the hard, practical American to the introspective, tranceful Oriental.

“The poor man is crazy on religious subjects,” thought Lloyd Quantrell, “but how in the deuce did he get the military lunacy there too? Why, out of Moses, of course!

“So, General Smith,” interrupted the young hunter, pleasantly, “that was the way Moses got his military commission? He was made a general in the bush?”

“I was about to say, Mr. Quantrell, the general peace prevailing among many nations was broken — among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Philistines, and many others — who looked upon Moses, probably, as a sore disturber. They had not heard the voice he heard, nor seen the cause of war that lay among them. But in the deep prosperity of society often lies the live coal of war, as I have seen, at corn-harvest time, the fires break out in the woods and standing crops. One man might fail in this age — even one as obedient as Moses — to set in conflict the powers that now lie so tightly bound in cunning compromises that they can not draw back to strike each other. But the Power which sent the mysterious voice can bring the armies up, though the chosen captain look in vain to know how or where! He may excite only derision instead of war. He may be punished in a lunatic asylum. He may have the misery of utterly failing and involving others in destruction, but Moses thought all these things over, and they did not move him.”

Lloyd Quantrell arose and whistled to his dog.

“General Smith,” he said, “myself and your two sons have been greatly edified. To meet a man of your travel and intelligence on the top of the mountain is a refreshing surprise, sir. But the sun is getting low, and I have no shelter for the night. I would accept the hospitality of your house, if I knew just where it was.”

“We are not going home, Mr. Quantrell,” spoke one of the young men, “and there is nobody at our little cabin to entertain you. We are sorry, sir. You will do best to go down into the Catoctin Valley, here, where the settlements are close together. It is not very far to Middletown, where there is a tavern.”

“Yes,” said Isaac Smith, “we are out, Mr. Quantrell, on a night excursion to hunt minerals in the mountain. I use the divining-rod, sir, with much success. We expect to find lead in these hills, or iron, at least.”

“Ah, General Smith, you have got a universal head there! So all-night luck to you, and good-by. — Come, Albion.”

The dog started ahead at the cry.

“God bless you, sir!” said Isaac Smith, taking Lloyd’s hand in a large, fatherly palm. “Remember the queer old man’s sermon on the mountain, and — never kill a dove again.”

As the young man waved his hand and went on, he looked back once, and saw all three of the mountaineers watching him till he disappeared in the woods.


 

CHAPTER IV.

KATY “P’INTED.”

Leaving the Smiths, Lloyd descends into Catoctin Valley, and at a “Dutch” farm encounters a farm maid and her friend. Albion encounters the farm’s mastiff, and in a fight emerges the worse for wear, upending Lloyd into a water trough in the bargain.

“I’m Katy,” declares the girl, after Lloyd emerges from his soaking, “Jake Bosler’s Katy. I’m goin’ on seventeen.”

Having asked farmer Bosler for dry clothes and a night’s lodging, Lloyd muses to himself: “A Dutchman’s guest! . . . Well, well! The last Dutchman I met I stuck in the thigh with a shoemaker’s awl for getting too near the polls. Can I ever respect a Dutchman? — even the father of little Katy of Catoctin?”

WHEN he came down to supper, several plain, uncultivated-looking men were already at the table, where Lloyd was accommodated with a place between Katy and her friend, who was introduced by Katy, saying:

“Tis is Nelly Harbaugh; she’s a Swisser.”

“You’re a Deitsher,” replied Nelly Harbaugh to Katy.

“What’s the difference, girls, between a Swisser and a Deitsher?” asked Lloyd of the two ladies alternately, looking his fondest. — “Jake, you tell me.”

“Nay,” said Jake, replying in kind. “Ich wais’s net, Lloyd. Ask Andrew Atzerodt; he’s quick.”

“Te Swisser,” spoke up one of the apparent serving-men — that only one whose face, as Lloyd now remarked it, seemed to have a little worldly restlessness — “te Swisser offers hisself for to pe bought. Te Deitsher gits sold and says nix. Dat’s so, py Jing!”

He raised his voice at the end in a way to exasperate Lloyd, looking at Lloyd, too, as if to say, “I am always positive.”

“Nelly,” insinuated Lloyd, “when you’re in the market, let me know, sweetness! — Katy, don’t you get sold without giving me the first chance!”

“Ha, ha! Lloyd,” Jake Bosler broke out, “you is a great feller for te girls.”

“Do you mean it?” Nelly Harbaugh asked Lloyd, giving him the whole sunflower of her attention.

“I reckon so,” Lloyd answered, but looking at little Katy.

“Py Jing!” exclaimed Atzerodt, across the table, fiercely at Lloyd, “Nelly, tare, is my gal, I haf you know!”

He looked to Lloyd now to have been drinking, or to be naturally a little drunk.

“There’s nothing like being impressive, Andrew,” replied Lloyd, looking straight at him, and mentally wishing he had him down the road. “Are you a Swisser or a Deitsher?”

“Me? Py Jing, I’m a Swisser. I lif in te Valley of Fergeenia, where tey fights at te drop of te hat!”

“You better go down there and fight, then,” Nelly Harbaugh said to Andrew. — “Luther Bosler, tell Lloyd about the mountain Dutch!”

“Te German-blood people,” spoke up Luther Bosler, after hesitation, and in a still and somewhat dignified way, “come to Pennsylvany first. Amongst te first was us Tunkers. We been here hundred and forty year.”

“You too, Katy?” interjected Lloyd. “A hundred and forty years here, and never sent for me?”

Everybody laughed loud. Andrew Atzerodt more boisterously than all, and Katy answered meekly at last:

“I’m going on seventeen.”

Stopping till he was requested to continue, Luther Bosler, whose dark eyes were like Katy’s, but his hair was coarser and of a deeper brown, said on:

“Yes, Lloyd, us Dutch is a hundred and fifty year in te United States. First off, te Germans come to New York, and didn’t like that much, so most of tem moved to Pennsylvany. Te Tunker Dutch was Baptists, and they spread all over Pennsylvany and Maryland and down Virginia way. After they got to valleys, te Swiss come and took te hills dat wasn’t good for much. So now we’re all mixed up. Katy’s got worldly; Nelly, she’s no Tunker. Andrew, he’s nothin’ but a Dutch coach-maker.”

“I’m te pest coach-maker in Fergeenia, don’t you forgit it!” Andrew said, with rising inflection and want of equipoise.

“No, Andrew,” put in Lloyd, “when Katy and I want our royal coach, we’ll have you make it. — But, Luther, what do these Dunkers vote?”

“They don’t vote in general,” said Luther. “It’s not religious. I voted three year ago.”

“I hope you voted for Mr. Fillmore, Luther?”

“No, I didn’t,” said Luther.

“Oh! of couxse, you Dutch folks had to vote for old Buchanan. You couldn’t go one of us Americans.”

“Because I was an American, I thought,” quietly remarked Luther, “I voted for Colonel Fremont. He got just two hundred and eighty-one out of ’most eighty-seven thousand votes in Maryland. So you can see my vote sticking up at te end, all by itself.”

“Luter ’most got turned out of meetin’ for votin’,” exclaimed his father. “But dey took him back.”

“Dat Fremont was a tam French abolitionist!” exclaimed the excitable Atzerodt. “I kill him, py Jing!”

“Go for him, Andrew,” said Lloyd, grimly. “He’s afraid of you, I know. But, pop” — to Jake Bosler — “can’t you take me to meeting with you to-morrow?”

“O father, do!” spoke up Katy, impulsively, “it’s love-feast!”

“We’ll all go!” Nelly Harbaugh cried; “Luther must take me.”

“Oh, you’ll laugh at us poor Tunkers, Lloyd,” Jake Bosler said.

“Nelly, you goes with me!” Andrew Atzerodt spluttered, hotly. “Didn’t I come all to way from Port Tobacco to see you?”

“I have got better company,” said the girl, negligently.

 Py Jing!” raged Atzerodt, “I kill somebody!”

“Don’t kill me,” exclaimed Lloyd, with humor. “I’ll run under the table if you look at me so.”

Superior in worldly confidence and speech, and with unchecked humor and feelings, the city guest surpassed himself that evening as the candles were lighted and the wood-fire flamed, and the presuming Atzerodt also felt his influence as Lloyd jested light and complimentary.

Luther Bosler was a good listener, and whenever Lloyd looked his way, Luther, with a certain sluggish softness in his dark-lighted eyes, seemed watching him, but not with any dislike; for, once when Lloyd cried —

“Luther, I see you’re a long-headed old sly-boots” —

“Oh!” said Luther, “my head, Lloyd, can’t keep in my poots when you’re a-talkin’!”

When they had partaken of the stewed chicken and smear case and cream, and what Jake called the “wedgable things” for vegetables, little Katy brought in pies for supper. Lloyd smiled to himself, thinking: “What heathens! pie for supper!”

“What kind of sweet things, Kate,” he cried, “are you trying to sour us on with yourself?”

“Oh,” said Katy, beaming joy, “here’s peach snitz and elder, and some kickelins. I cooked tem.”

Lloyd found the “kickelins” were sweet cakes fried in fat, and the “snitz” were dried peaches, and the queer pie was made of elder-berries. Said Katy, in their Dutch tongue, to Nelly:

“How I like to see him eat! He does it so easy.”

“I should like to see him in love, Katy.”

“Hush!” said Katy, trembling.

“Bedtime,” Jake Bosler nodded, setting back his chair and glancing at the clock. “Bi’m-by!”

“Jake, your clock is fast,” Lloyd observed, consulting his own gold watch, at which all the company looked, marveling.

“We keep it fast, Lloyd,” Luther Bosler said; “it’s te fashion up here, so we can go to work earlier.”

“My goodness!” Katy cried, “te apples is cut and you men must snitz.”

Two wash-tubs were brought into the whitewashed room, and sitting around them on wooden chairs all the men commenced to peel apples for drying, while Katy and Nelly produced two spinning-wheels and made them fly and hum on woolen yarn.

“We make all our own yarn,” said Katy to Lloyd, “and send it to to weaver. He makes it into Dunker cloth.”

Lloyd peeled apples awhile, till Nelly Harbaugh called him to unravel something at the wheel, and then he watched the two fine girls working on Saturday night, with a sense of reproof in his mind for so much avarice of time.

Nothing was here, he thought, but the physical beauty of these women to ornament life; no pictures on the wall but lithographs from Scripture, no books but the “Hagerstown Almanac” and Bausmann’s travels in the Holy Land, and a Dutch Bible; no ornaments but some horns of deer and a robe of yellow panther-skins sewn together, with the eye-holes embroidered around the red lining. The very peace seemed, to the strong-willed American, heavy with unspiritual content; but it had brought to these young girls the perfection of everything but mind.

The face he understood the best, and which seemed also to understand him, was Nelly Harbaugh’s; too open to his gaze, unretreating before him, ready to be admired whenever he turned toward it, and seeming to say, “You can make no mistake — I am ready to hear you.”

Had Katy not been there to drop her eyes before his warm admiration, he might have paid closer regard to Nelly Harbaugh’s sunny charms.

She was larger, fuller, taller than Katy, with a carriage erect yet indolent, as if Nature had given her such animal health that she could not droop, but like some strong-stemmed golden flower blinked not at the hottest sun, but took its color in every petal. Over Katy her influence might be strong, Lloyd thought, and he said:

“Nelly, I know I have seen your fine blue eyes in Baltimore.”

“No, I have never been there,” Nelly said, “except to market, and Luther made us come back as soon as we sold out.”

She looked coquettish reproach, with the same searching directness, at Luther as he came over and, putting his hand upon her shoulder, looked at her with mild interest.

“Nelly,” said Luther, “will you pe my girl if I drive you to Beaver Creek meeting?”

“I am always yours, Luther,” answered Nelly, examining him with even more wistfulness than Lloyd. “But you don’t want me.”

“I do,” said Luther, “but I want you all. I think you can not gif me all your heart. It is difided.”

“It is not,” said Nelly, “but you will not ask for it.”

Lloyd Quantrell was arrested at both the deepened interest in Nelly’s eyes and the finely contrasted animal perfection of her and of her admirer. Luther was dark and deep-voiced, and with a manly something in him, however rude. In her tall, well-rounded figure and long waist, which a bodice might adorn, and finely grained flesh and long braids of corn-colored hair, there seemed to be strength, fruitfulness, and power over man; yet in her undisguised ardor and will it seemed that she needed Luther’s reality and slower though not stronger impulses of character. He looked at her with mild, almost devout, eyes, as if he kept love back by reason.

“Kiss her,” said Katy. “I know you want to, Luther.”

Luther passed his arm around Nelly, but did not kiss her.

With disappointment, yet pride, the girl turned on Lloyd Quantrell again the same penetrating and steady look.

Thought Lloyd, returning the gaze in kind, “That girl a man might dress to look like a queen, but even then she could take a lesson in nature from little Katy.”

Katy had such large eyes, the pupils big and the eyeballs big too, that they turned in her head like poems, Lloyd thought, harmoniously rhyming in expression and so full of tender feeling that he said once, “Katy, I can almost see the water drip from those two buckets of your eyes as they rise on me a from the well of your fresh heart.”

“Why,” said Katy, “you’re a poet, Lloyd. I can make rhymes too.”

Singsht?” Lloyd asked, having picked up a word.

Yaw, Lloyd, and I play te accordion.”

Modestly Katy went for the instrument, and bringing it back began to draw forth its sounds, opening her lips to breathe inward the harmony, and Lloyd saw that her teeth were full and white.

Sitting there a mere child, her long braid of chestnut hair hanging to her chair, her long, expressive fingers at the keys, and shyness and fervor playing in her countenance like trout in springs, she suddenly raised a little German idyll, and her brother joined in it with his untrained bass, and all the farm-hands turned their faces up to hear:

“Oh was is shenner uf der welt
      Os blimlin roat un weis?
  Un blo, un gail, im arble feld —
      Wass sin de doch so neis!
  Ich wais noch goot in seller tzeit
      Hob ich nix leevers du,
  Os in de wissa, long un breit
      So blimlin g’soocht we du.”*

[* By Tobias Witmer: “My Old Woman’s Birthday.”]

Lloyd knew that it was a song about hunting bright flowers in the fields, and almost understood the timid peep of Katy’s eyes upon him, when she sang:

“I know yet well that in that time
      Naught would I rather do,
  Than in the meadow long and wide
      Such flow’rets seek as you.”

Jake Bosler, who had been nodding, awoke to hear the tune, and when it was done he wiped his eyes of some tears.

Ich con’s net helfa — I can’t help it,” he said: “I tink of my olty—”

“My mother who is dead,” Katy explained, as Jake faltered; “she’s been dead two years.”

“Bettime—bi’m-by!” Jake Bosler managed to say at last, and Katy moved to the table and opened the old Dutch Bible. When she had read, in the sweetest tones, words intelligible to Lloyd only by their holiness, all present knelt and Jake Bosler prayed for his brood, for pure hearts and thoughts, and for the stranger within his gates. His daughter and son went up to kiss him.

“Goot-night, Lloyd,” he said. “Soon-up, bi’m-by.”

“Thinking of work even as he falls to sleep!” Lloyd exclaimed. “Now give old daddy a parting tune!”

He started up the little song by Samuel Woodworth:

“The pride of the valley is lovely young Ellen,
     Who dwells in a cottage enshrined by a thicket,
  Sweet peace and content are the wealth of her dwelling,
     And Truth is the porter that waits at the wicket.”

Katy caught the air and kept the accompaniment with her accordion, and Lloyd changed “Ellen” into “Katy,” and sang it to her with all his spirit, being in fine voice, and all the Dutch people listened with delight.

“Ah, Katy!” said Jake, going up-stairs, “I guess you got a beau, Katy.”

The serving-men took their departure too, and only Andrew Atzerodt remained.

“Luter,” he said, “git me some of Jake’s whisky. I hat a head on me yisterday.”

“Here’s some whisky we make ourselves, Lloyd,” Luther said, producing it. “Te Tunkers keeps little still-houses and makes a few bar’ls a year.”

The pure liquor soon brought a pleasurable glow to the men, Luther drinking sparingly, and for a while the influence was peculiar on Atzerodt, bringing out a vein of natural humor in him. Lloyd read him soon to be a man of such volatile nature that his forwardness was always getting him into predicaments. He challenged everybody, and probably had a brutal Hessian instinct, as Lloyd expressed it, but possessed no fortitude to carry it out. Seeing that Luther was now increasing his interest in Nelly Harbaugh, Andrew cried out:

“Now, py Jing! you haf been holting my gal’s hand tare long enough!”

“Sit down!” commanded Nelly Harbaugh, “or I’ll send you home to walk to Middletown in the dark.”

“I’ll go, den,” Atzerodt cried, making a movement toward his hat.

“Behave, you fool!” cried Nelly, making Luther release her hand, however.

“She’s got two fellows on the string,” thought Lloyd Quantrell, “and is fishing for me too. — Ah! Andrew,” Lloyd spoke out, “you are a courageous man. A desperate man, I call you. I have no doubt that you could take your hat and walk alone among these mountains all night, and not run from the ghost I saw to-day.”

Geisht!” exclaimed Andrew, looking behind him and turning pale, “I walk past a shpook and shust laugh at him — ha! ha!”

“Give me your hand, my brave fellow,” cried Lloyd, standing up. “And you have got a strong grip too, Andrew.”

“If I shqueeze you hard, py Jing,” said the heedless mechanic, “you goes crazy.”

“Don’t squeeze me, Andrew,” exclaimed Lloyd, with a wink to the rest. “Now you are doing of it. Ouch! Let me go!”

As he spoke, Lloyd, who was a powerful man, trained in athletic games, closed his great palm around the coachmaker’s, and slowly tightened it. The poor fellow writhed and groveled in pain, but feared to cry out, since his oppressor kept saying:

“What nerve! what endurance! Don’t squeeze me so! Oh, take him off! Have mercy, Andrew!”

Thus shouting, the tears came to Lloyd’s eyes to see the poor braggart suffer, and all laughed but Katy, who cried:

“You’re hurting one another, I know.”

“Ah!” said Lloyd, looking at his own hand as if in misery, “never will I go into the lion’s den again.”

“Py Jing!” exclaimed the other, as soon as he could get breath and suppress his sobs, “you got a purty goot grip, too. But I’m a workin’-man. Better not tackle me, Lloyd!”

“Poor thing,” said Katy, taking Lloyd’s hand timidly, and looking at it. He raised her little fingers up as if to show her his wound, and kissed them.

“Don’t,” said Katy; “I been huskin’ corn all day in te field.”

“Do they work the women out in the fields?” asked Lloyd.

“Oh, yes,” Katy answered simply, while Nelly Harbaugh made an effort to restrain her, which Katy did not understand; “father gives Nelly half a dollar a day for huskin’ and plantin’ corn. She must be rich.”

“What ghost did you see on the mountain, Lloyd?” Nelly Harbaugh asked, evasively.

All seemed interested to hear this, and Lloyd, standing up to emphasize the story and test Andrew Atzerodt’s nerve-powers, looked quite the necromancer in his farmer’s suit and in a wide Dunker hat he now drew on.

“Andrew,” spoke Lloyd, “only your splendid courage could have resisted the feeling that the old man I saw to-day was not mortal. He had a nose that seemed to curl like an elephant’s trunk; his eyebrows stood up like a horse’s mane; his beard fell below his breast-bone and had silver fire in it like old punk. He closed his big jaw, saying: ‘Is this a dove you have been shooting? Agh-h-h!’”

“Stop! You lie! He wasn’t tare!” cried Andrew, sinking at the knees, at the stranger’s well-acted part.

“He was there, Andrew. I swear it! ‘Is this a dove you have been killing?’ the wild man said, his voice as cold as the October wind which blows that door open now — hoo-oo-oo!”

“Scat! Te wind is high,” chattered Atzerodt, as the door to the kitchen opened a little way.

“‘I have no respect,’ the phantom said to me, ‘for any man who will kill a little dove. No-o-o-o!’”

“You scare us, Lloyd!” murmured little Katy, leaving her chair and coming forward, as if to shut the creaking door. He held his hand out to detain her, and continued:

“‘I did not mean to do it,’ I said to that strange man; ‘my pointer dog was obstinate, and nosed the harmless bird. Forgive me, mountain-wizard!’ ‘No!’ pealed he, ‘a dove! A little, little d-o-o-ve!’”

“Pooh!” said Atzerodt, “if dot was all, a little pit of a dove, you wasn’t afeard.”

Atzerodt took a stout drink of the whisky. The loose door obeyed the wind again and opened inward. Katy stepped forward, but Lloyd held her at an arm’s length.

“‘My dog would nose the dove.’ I pleaded. ‘’Twas not my fault, indeed!’ ‘You killed a dove,’ said he, ‘a little, little d-o-o-ve.’ ‘Hist, Albion,’ said I, ‘seek farther on—’”

“Ha! what’s dat? I hears a kreisha!” Andrew muttered, as a sort of wail came from the kitchen.

Albion!” repeated Lloyd, himself disturbed by the noise and his own zeal, for he had involuntarily exceeded his joke.

As he mentioned the name of his dog, Albion himself, mechanically walking as if in sleep, came through the kitchen door that was ajar, and advancing near the middle of the large room, threw back his body and threw up his white and brown nose, and whimpered as on the mountain-top. His torn ear was turned toward them and showed bloody yet.

“The hoond p’ints something,” muttered Luther Bosler. “What is it?”

“Ha! ha! ha!” Atzerodt replied, repeating his drink. “I tink it’s Katy.”

“Maybe it’s the Black Dog!” shouted Nelly Harbaugh. “Say The Words,’ Katy!”

As both girls started to mutter something like an incantation, Luther Bosler advanced to take his sister, but Lloyd Quantrell had assuaged her terror in his own arms, and as he drew her tenderly to him he threw Jake Bosler’s big wool hat at the dog, which snapped at it and shrank back into the dark kitchen.

“Dear little dove,” Lloyd Quantrell said, attempting to kiss Katy, but she pressed his head away, “that wasn’t a black dog at all, only my English pointer.”

“The Black Dog,” said Nelly Harbaugh, “needn’t be black. It’s a spirit.”

“Spirit of what?”

“Trouble,” answered Nelly Harbaugh.

“Lloyd,” murmured little Katy, “it p’inted at me and you. We must say ‘Te Words’ together.”

“‘The Words?’” Lloyd answered. “I don’t know ‘The Words,’ Katy.”

“O Lloyd! ‘Te Words’ keep off te Poltergeist. I say them when I see a bad sign and when I am too happy, for when we’re happiest te bad man likes to come.”

“Say them now, Katy,” Lloyd whispered, pressing her close in his strong arms; “I’m very happy, for I love you!”

“Do you? Oh! you must tell to truth now; for I’m going to say ‘Te Words,’ and it’s wicked to say them with a lie.”

“I love you,” Lloyd Quantrell replied, his arms trembling. “I’ll say ‘The Words’ after you with joy, Katy.”

“Call on te three Highest Names, my love,” said Katy, in rapt awe.

As they said together in a country rhyme, he repeating after her, the dread names in the Trinity, they heard the dog howl in the kitchen.

“There,” said Katy, “te Black Dog heard us and is gone. Lloyd, you may kiss me now.”

“O blessed words,” Lloyd Quantrell murmured, “which brought this kiss to me. Teach me from your pure heart all that it knows, dear child, and keep me happy as I am.”

“You must peliev,” said Katy, “pelieve in te Three Highest Names and say ‘Te Words,’ and then love will be beautiful.”

“Who told you, Katy?”

“My dear mother, Lloyd, and my heart tells me, too.”

“Did you ever love before?”

“No, but I often tried to. When you came to te spring house, Lloyd, I was saying to myself: ‘I guess somebody is going to love me. But I wonder when he will come?’ I knew he was somewheres.”

“God bless you, darling! That very same was I thinking: that the country was beautiful, but I was lonely in it, for want of some gentle heart and glowing face. I have found you, Katy, and both of us are happy.”

Again the stranger in the mountains pressed to his lips the simple and unresisting face which had floated to him like a sunny cloud in this high vale, and for a little while he forgot that she was “Dutch,” hard as his native prejudices were against that humble race, longer in the land than his own name of Quantrell.


 

CHAPTER V.

LOVE AMONG THE SPOOKS.

WHEN they returned in consciousness to the whitewashed great room of Jacob Bosler, Nelly was sitting near the fire, which had burned low, with Luther on her right and Atzerodt on her left. Atzerodt was telling tales of spirits and frightening himself, and hence drew frequently upon the jug of whisky to give him what Lloyd called “Dutch courage.”

He told of the snarley-yow and the were-wolf; the phantom soldier and the white woman which announced a death; of the big Indian’s shade with a light in him; and of the fox-fire in the fields which lay on the meadow-grass at night and turned to silver, but like the fire-coals when stirred by avarice were silver only at night, but in the morning ashes.

Atzerodt’s sallow, furtive, somewhat anxious face, like that of one intense yet animal, brightened up between the drink, the superstition, and his enjoyment of the others’ fears; his voice was shrill and responsive to his emotions, his frame thick set and his movements were agile, his eyes a keen blue, and no repose was in his soul.

“He’s one of the best coachmakers to be found,” said Nelly to Lloyd. “If he’d be steady, he could marry any girl, and be a rich man.”

“Can’t you make him steady?”

“I don’t want to be a mechanic’s wife,” said Nelly, “unless I must.”

Looking at him again, as if trying to read him, Nelly Harbaugh said:

“Is your watch gold? Won’t you give it to me? What do you do in Baltimore?”

“Spend money,” said Lloyd, “run to the fires, turn out with the Grays, and guard the polls.”

“The Grays? That’s soldiers!”

“Yes, we’re all Union men. Not a foreigner in the company. Our motto is, ‘Put none but Americans on guard.’”

“I hope everybody is for te Union,” Luther Bosler remarked; “we’re all for it up this a-way.”

“Katy,” Lloyd said, “do you believe in ghosts?”

“Oh, yes, Lloyd.”

“Tell me about one.”

Katy shrank a little at being called upon to take so much attention, but her ready impulses carried her along.

“There was a girl over in Smoketown,” Katy spoke, “who wanted to sell herself to te divel” — Katy here seemed to be saying “The Words” again an instant — “she wanted to pe rich and not to work; she thought she was a lady, and not a poor Dutch girl. So she asked her mother to let her sell herself to te little lame man. Her mother told her to go sit by te spring and say:

‘I want clothes, and I want gold;
 I want nefer to pe old;
 I want peauty as long as I can —
 Gif it to me, little lame man!’”

“What a nice wish!” exclaimed Nelly Harbaugh.

“So te little lame man came right to te spring, and he said, ‘Put your right hand on te top of your head.’ She put it there. ‘Put your left hand on the soles of your feet,’ said he. She was sitting down, and she did that, too. ‘Now,’ said te lame man, ‘you must say, “All that is between my two hands belongs to te divel.”’ She started to say it, and had got to te last word, when her mother ran there and shouted ‘God!’ so she lost the words and said, ‘All that is between my two hands belongs to — God!’ Te little lame man run back to Smoketown as fast as his legs could carry him.”

“But didn’t the girl get any nice clothes, or anything, for being so good?” asked Nelly.

“She got,” said Katy, blushing, “a good husband, my mother told me, if he was a poor young man.”

“Dot Shmoketown,” cried Atzerodt, “is an ole Shpooktown, py Jing! I come along tare one night purty trunk, riding a horse, and joost as I crossed te leetle stream dis side of Shmoketown an begun to climb te mountain road dat comes dis way, and had got into de glen petween te Short Mountain and te Plue Ridge, I see pefore me a black man with a white face like a chiny plate. I said to myself, ‘Py Jing, any company is petter dan none!’ So I jined te black feller, and he was de nicest feller I ever did know; he was rale shentlemans.

“Says he: ‘It’s cold; we’ll drink together!’ He handed me a flask. When I got done trinkin’, tere was another man riding with us.

“As we come up te mountain through te chestnut forest, te moon shined on te road, an efery time we took another trink, tere was another man on horsepack, till, py Jing! I counted apout nine men, and de last man was a woman.

“Tey all seemed to know te black man with te white face; he was a rale shentlemans.

“He made speeches out of pooks and drilled us like a solcher company, and we charged at a gallop, an rode company-face, an right-countermarch, an had a good time, py Jing! I guess I was purty trunk.”

“You’re not far from it now,” said Nelly Harbaugh.

Atzerodt looked into the darker parts of the room apprehensively yet saucily, and continued:

“We got most to te top of te Plue Ridge, when te black man said, ‘Who’s dat long feller amongst te horses?’

“There was a man walkin’ in te road. He was a long man in black clothes. He looked up and powed and said, ‘Good-evening, friends; we’re ’most home!’ ‘Te devil you are!’ said te black man with te white face.

“We rode along awhile till te captain, as I’ll call him, begun whisperin’ to us an saying: ‘Look at dat feller! He’s eferywhere at once; he’s on dat side, and on dis side, and petween our horses, and I pelieve he’s joost a devil. Let’s ride over him!’

“So we looked, an tere he was, right amongst te horses, dis side, dat side, not a pit afraid—”

“Oh, don’t,” spoke Katy, “don’t tell us the rest unless it’s good.”

“Go to bed, Andrew, you desperate, brave man,” Lloyd Quantrell said, drawing his arm tighter around Katy.

“Yes,” Luther Bosler added, “it’s late, and this story is too long.”

“Go on,” said Nelly Harbaugh; “I want to know what became of the black man with the white face.”

“‘Let’s ride over him!’ said te captain. ‘All right, py Jing!’ says I.

“‘No,’ says some, ‘he’s a nice ole man, and he says he’s ’most home.’

“‘Put it to vote!’ says te black man with te white face.

“Py Jing! it was a tie; one half was one way and one half was te oder way.

“‘Leave it to te woman!’ says te captain.”

“That was the right way,” Lloyd Quantiell said. “The women are always for pity, Katy.”

“Te woman,” concluded Atzerodt, “looked a leetle queer an said nothing till te black an white man rode to her side and looked at her like a rale shentlemans. Den she leaned over an’ kissed him, and she joost yelled, ‘Charge!’”

Excited with the recital and the drink, Atzerodt had arisen unsteadily as he shouted this last word.

“‘Charge!’ yelled to woman, and on we put, py Jing! to trample dat long man in te road.

“The first ting I knowed, we was at te steep edge of te mountain, and te captain rode right over. Down, down he went, and efery feller after him, and I last of all, for my horse had stumpled—”

“Ah! ah! Andrew,” spoke Lloyd, “surely, with your splendid courage, you were not in the rear?”

“I was pitched off te horse joost pefore he jumped over, and I was fallin’, too, but I see te long man lyin’ in te road, an’ I took hold of his hand to save myself.

“Te moon showed him lyin’ there dead, all cut with te horseshoes. Te hand I took was slippery with something, and I couldn’t git a tight hold of it.”

“Not with your stalwart fist, Andrew?” exclaimed Lloyd.

“I couldn’t git hold of it,” said Atzerodt, with a changed and lowered tone, “because his hand was bloody. So down I went, hundreds of feet, and next mornin’ tere I was found underneath te mountain, and Nelly Harbaugh was py me. Py Jing! ain’t it so, Nelly?”

“Yes,” said Nelly, after a pause, “it was last April; he was coming to see me to make me marry him. I went out to hunt him, and there I found him asleep in the road, and his horse going loose. So I woke him up and sent him to the right-about.”

“Py Jing!” exclaimed the tipsy man, tears of various origin coming to his eyes, “I’m come agin to-day, Nelly, to ask you to pe my wife. Don’t say ‘No.’ You’ll preak me all up. I have got a shop at Port Tobacco, and all te work I want, but I can’t keep sober unless you marry me. Come, make me a home! You needn’t work in te fields no more. I’ll save you from want, and you’ll save me from wickedness. Oh, I’ll promise eferything!”

“It’s worth considering, Nelly,” Luther Bosler remarked, with grave emotion. “He’s a good mechanic.”

“Take the candle and go to bed,” commanded Nelly Harbaugh, looking at Atzerodt; “if you intend to obey me, begin now. I will not give you an answer till you are sober.”

She stood, beautiful and tall, with her blue eyes full of care yet spirit, like one with resources but in doubt.

“Oh, to-night,” pleaded Atzerodt, “or I may dream agin!”

“To-morrow,” said Nelly Harbaugh, pointing to the door.

The common fellow, in whom seemed some real sensibility now, took the candle and staggered meekly toward the entrance.

“Kiss good-night!” he muttered unsteadily.

“You are not obeying me,” answered Nelly Harbaugh.

He threw open the door leading into the night and stopped, with a trembling of the candle he held up, and the words, “It’s dark, Nelly!”

“Now, now, Andrew!” Lloyd Quantrell cried, “I know you’re not afraid to go to bed alone.”

“You’re a loafer,” shouted Atzerodt in sudden rage, uttering an oath. “You’ll pe no good to Katy!”

Lloyd made a push for the door, and Atzerodt fled, slamming it behind him.

“The cur!” exclaimed Lloyd Quantrell, throwing his arm around Katy, who had followed him. “You know he slanders me, Katy.”

“Oh, he must,” Katy said, “you are such a gentleman!”

Her brother’s eyes followed Katy tenderly to the fire, as if to reassure her of their guest’s good character; and then seeing her, without affront, caressed by the so recent acquaintance, Luther turned to Nelly Harbaugh, who had sunk into one of the wooden chairs.

“What will you answer Andrew to-morrow, Nelly?”

“Whatever you say.”

“Do you love him?”

“Luther,” exclaimed the girl, as a great sob escaped from her throat, “there is but one I love: you know it.”

“If I could make you happy,” Luther replied, “I would marry you. Your great beauty makes up for your poverty, Nelly. I haf a good farm next to father’s. Could I tepend upon your opedience?”

“For life, Luther! You are the only man I would obey with joy.”

“Girls nowadays, Nelly, looks at a man as a slave to gratify all their follies. My wife must do her part in toil and saving as our mothers did. Can you do that?”

“Luther, I can for you, I believe.”

“I haf loved you a year,” said Luther, deliberately. “Kiss me!”

Little Katy rose from her lover’s side and came forward.

“Oh, what a night of happiness!” she cried. “Hiresht se, Luther? Marry and call Nelly ‘wife.’ I hoped you would, for Nelly is willful. But she is beautiful, too.”

After Katy kissed them both, her friend, with a moment’s care, exclaimed:

“Luther, will you hitch up your horse and buggy and drive me home?”

“Now?”

“Yes, I do not want to face that man to-morrow. He may be dangerous.”

“Andrew? Why, stay and tell him. Be up and down about it.”

“No,” said Nelly, firmly, “I do not want to see him. He has once before threatened me, and, though he is a coward, he is unsafe. Tell him, Katy, from me, ‘good-by forever.’”

Her face expressed decision yet apprehension. Luther stepped out, and soon came to the door with the buggy.

“Nelly,” he said, putting on his hat and big over-jacket, “it looks as if I had pegun to obey you.”

“To-morrow, Katy,” exclaimed Nelly, nervously, “we will meet you and Lloyd at the forks of the road this side of the mountain, going to meeting.”

Lloyd Quantrell, as the door closed upon them, drew Katy to his heart again.

“Beloved,” he murmured to her, “who would have thought it this morning? That my empty, hungry heart would now be full? That you, dear child, were waiting for me?”

“I love you, Lloyd,” said Katy. “I hope te Lord sent you to me. Come, put your right hand on your head and this left hand under the sole of your foot, and say after me, ‘All petween my two hands pelongs to God!’”

“All between my two hands belongs to God,” Lloyd Quantrell repeated.

“Good-night, Lloyd.”

She slipped from his ardent grasp.

As they gave the long, wistful kiss of faith and future, pain and gladness, life and love, a door opened and Jake Bosler poked his head down the stairs, and saw them clasped together, without reproof.

“Soon-up,” Jake uttered, sleepily. “Bi’m-by.”


 

CHAPTER VI.

DOGS AND HOUNDS.

LOOKING through the small stone windows of his sleeping-room, as soon as he was awakened by the big bell, Lloyd Quantrell saw the red and white spires of Middletown peeping low to the south, and the bounding profile of the Blue Ridge overlap itself like elephants marching, and the Catoctin Mountain to the east leap out of the plain like a boy’s ball bouncing forward and falling again.

The Sunday morning dawn touched the high summits and crests of this double panorama with gilt as if it was the picture-frame, while between, just warming with the light, white farm-houses and gray barns, straight yellow-corn rows, sheep with brown backs, and next year’s wheat just spearing above the pebbly swells, made the valley of the Catoctin seem itself another mountain, only kept down by its abundance.

Jake Bosler opened the latchless door without knocking, and entered with Lloyd’s clothes dried and pressed.

“Soon-down. Bi’m-by!” Jake said, looking at Atzerodt asleep upon the floor.

“Who pressed these clothes so well, Jake? Katy, I think?”

“Yaw; she shtayed oop last naucht, Lloyd, to git tem purty.”

“God bless her!” cried Lloyd. “And you, too, Jake, for being her father.”

“Oh, yaw, Lloyd,” Jake Bosler said, taking the proffered hand humbly. “Katy’s my letsht — te last, I mean, Lloyd. Luter, he’s engaged now to Nelly Harbaugh.”

The man lying on the floor, in the second feather-bed, muttered here:

“I can’t keep soper unless you marry me. Come, Nelly! make me a home.”

T’zu shpoat,” Jake murmured, “Nelly wanted Luter; Antrew wanted Nelly. When Antrew went to ped, Nelly took Luter. I don’t knows not’ing about it.”

“Nelly took Luter!” Atzerodt spoke, rising upon his elbow and looking through hot, dry eyes.

Jake Bosler looked still humbler, and, as he turned down the stairs, said compassionately:

“Soon-up! Bi’m-by!”

“Yes, poor fellow,” Lloyd Quantrell answered for Jake, “wait for sun-up. Bi’m-by it will shine bright, Andrew, from another pair of eyes.”

“Where is she?” whispered Atzerodt.

“Luther took her away last night. She thought it would distress both of you to see each other.”

“O my Gott!” — the unhappy man threw his face into the gay feather quilt — she wrote to me to come and marry her. Dis is her letter.”

He began to weep like a broken-hearted child. Lloyd reflected that even this unspiritual being had a heart.

“Don’t be too hard on her, my lad,” he spoke; “she’s poor and ambitious. She thought well of you, but your coming has brought the man she loved most, to the popping-point at last.”

Atzerodt finished his fit of weeping and rose up.

“Gif me a drink!” he pleaded, “I can’t eat none. I’ll git on te road an tramp agin.”

“Pull at it light, Andrew,” Lloyd interrupted, as he saw the deep draught the other took.

“She said she’d gif me her answer when I got soper,” Atzerodt exclaimed, pulling his slouched hat over his brows; “she’s run away from her promise. I’ll never pe soper agin, so help me Gott!”

Again bursting into a wail and tears, he went down the steps and reappeared from the barn, riding a horse. Pausing a moment at the foot of the hill and looking fiercely back, he shook his fist and shouted:

“Gott tam dat house an eferypody in it!”

Then, with a cruel blow at his horse, and another sob and gush of tears, he galloped away.

“Dutch, Dutch!” Lloyd Quantrell said; “not fit to have a wife. Yet the fine Swisser did deceive him. She is a Dutch Venus; I might have won her instead of Katy. Dare I marry either? Well, I can be in love.”

He took his gun and game-bag to carry them away. The dove was still in the game-bag, and he brought it out and looked at it again.

“By George!” he exclaimed, “Albion did point at little Katy, truly, just as he nosed this poor little bird. If I lived long among the Dutch I would get to believe in ghosts.”

Katy was finishing the setting of the table, and she went up and kissed Lloyd before her father.

“I reckon you think I’m familiar for a stranger, Jake,” Lloyd said.

“How else would you git acquainted?” queried Katy’s father.

“I told fadder you was my peau,” Katy said, blushing.

Yaw,” Jake said, “if Katy didn’t tell her olt dawdy when she was happy, how could he pe glad?”

Katy spread her hands over the table and said the blessing in English, and Jake Bosler ended it with Amen.

“Lloyd,” asked Jake, after Katy had helped them to coffee and ham and eggs, “what religion is you? Is you Baptist or not?”

“I’m a poor sinner, Jake. I was brought up a Catholic. That’s how I was educated. My father is a convert; my mother was a Methodist.”

“Any religion is petter dan none, Lloyd. Us Paptists was pefore Martin Luter. We asks all to come to te Lord’s supper and to pe our friends.”

A big wagon, with clean straw in the bottom, drawn by two great gray horses, Jake Bosler drove to the door and cried, “Git in, Lloyd.” Little Katy had a bundle with her and a large basket, and Lloyd threw in his gun and kit.

“Stop,” said Lloyd, as they started off; “won’t you lock the house up?”

“Oh, no, Lloyd,” replied Jake, “nobody steals up this a-way, pecause nobody is lazy, and the poor is a-welcome.”

Jake Bosler’s cattle in the bottoms looked up to see them go — those roan, red, white, and speckled cattle, calling “moo” so tenderly, and each with the great mild Bosler eyes; and the turkeys, now fattening, sat under the cherry-trees in their white bodies with wings of gold and red and breasts of black, all agitated that Katy was going; the peacock spread his tail of eyes and fashions, and broke his heart in one long sob of protest; and pea fowls and Guinea-hens, cocks and pullets, came trooping from the barn to see the face which fed them smiles, as her hands had given them food, go away but for a day.

Along the row of cherry-trees, by a little mill-race flowing in the clover, near hedges of the new Osage orange from the blood-red fields of Kansas, and where gum-trees matched the sycamores in strength in some old sedgy pasture, they rolled in the reddish road, and now and then saw the Catoctin Mountain’s purple-green sides, and black crest and yellowing foliage, bound up and fall.

At the first little hamlet they turned their backs upon the Catoctin range and faced the South Mountain to the northwest, and Katy at the little towns pointed out the United Brethren and the Lutheran churches ready for worship.

Going between the high, billowy corn-hills to cross the main Catoctin Creek, they rose upon a bold mound in their way, and only three miles ahead saw their road scale the Blue Ridge, which, like a giant child playing through the sky, showed dimples of turning foliage in his austere countenance, and grace and sweetness nursed by storm.

Near the foot of the mountain, at a road coming in from the north, Luther Bosler and Nelly Harbaugh were waiting in a buggy.

Nelly now had a dress of bright colors and a straw hat of city jauntiness trimmed with natural flowers, and Lloyd smiled to see, as she put her straight foot from the buggy, that she wore hoops and flounces.

“Katy,” he said to his little girl, who sat in a black Dunker hood and cape and gown, her hair plaited down her back, and her white Dunker cap transparent at her little ears, “why don’t you dress like Nelly?”

“I am not so peautiful,” Katy said, looking down at her dark gown and white apron, “and, Lloyd, I want to love God, who has let you love me.”

“My child,” Lloyd said, not repelling some tears which came to his eyes, “why do you not see the wicked fellow I am and turn away from me? I am not worthy of your pure heart, Katy!”

“Yes, you are,” Katy said; “maybe I can pring you to God if I try hard. What else is woman for?”

The tears came again and yet again to the young man’s eyes; at last they streamed upon his cheeks, and he felt them dropping like blood from a fresh wound into his hands, as he held his palms open and thought they would fill. It was the first mention of God, the first affection bestowed upon him, so hungry-hearted, since his Christian mother’s death.

Katy threw her arms around him and drew his head upon her little neck.

“Tese is love-feast tears,” she said. “Our Saviour made tem holy, darling, at his last supper. Come, take it with me to-day and pe happy.”

He sobbed so hard he could not speak: a past world of love now faded in the grave, another world of fatherly affection he had sought but could not find; recollections of prayers long taught but long unuttered, of gentle feelings brutalized by coarse city contacts, of the sense of home not yet obliterated but blunted, and of being at this moment too well, too nobly, if humbly beloved, stirred all the nature of the young man up and melted into rills of tears the ice in caverns long denied the air.

“My God!” he spoke at last, “can love do this? Was I experimenting with love, and finding such religion? — Katy,” he suddenly looked up and pushed her from him, “you must let me go!”

“Nefer, now,” said Katy, looking with all her heart and great deep eyes upon him. — “God, gif me this soul, and let it feed with me of thy supper and drink thy precious blood!”

Coming to the wagon to find Lloyd in tears and Katy clinging to him, Luther Bosler exclaimed:

Wass treibsht olla weil? Are you two quarreling?”

“No, Luther,” answered Lloyd, wiping his eyes; “Katy is trying to make something good out of me. Yonder mountains ought to be between us.”

“‘Faith,’” observed Luther, mildly, “‘can remove mountains,’ it says. Let us cross them together.”

He took the reins, and Nelly Harbaugh sat by him, and so they slowly went up the pebbly mountain-road, old Jake going before in the buggy, with the parting words:

“Love-feast. Bi’m-by!”

Sitting with his arm around Katy, and with sweetly troubled feelings, yet manlier than he had ever known, Lloyd looked back into Catoctin Valley and remarked:

“Luther, why can’t I see the houses and towns now?”

“Because te upper valley is hilly and tey puilt te houses py te springs petween te hills. But tey is all tere, Lloyd, and whoefer has pusiness with tem can find tem. When their country calls for tem, up will run te flag eferywheres and pe peautiful.”

“We’ll be there, Luther, won’t we? This great, free Union is worth fighting for!”

“Yes, Lloyd. A pity it ain’t free, too, and ten, I think, we should always have peace.”

“What a singular Dutchman!” Lloyd thought to himself. “What he says seems eloquent, because he is so honest. How came he to be so grave and parental? I am not so. He is like a father to his father because, I suppose, he is so good a son. My father! Why will he not give me his confidence? Do I deserve it?”

“I live yonder where the hills are all rocky and wild, past Wolfsville,” said Nelly Harbaugh, pointing north. “Mount Misery, where the counterfeiters had their cave in the Revolutionary War, is close by me. The Tories hid there, too, that were caught and hanged. I’m bad root, Lloyd,” blushed Nelly, with a deep look on Luther.

“The heart is the true rest,” Luther said. “Keep that steady, and your pad ancestors will not trouble you. But whose dogs are those?

He pointed back, and coming together in the road were Fritz and Albion, the latter leading on, as if he had proposed the excursion; Fritz hanging back, yet looking at the carriage sturdily, as ready to take his reproof.

“Fritz, wo gaesht hee?” spoke Luther, without temper, to his dog, but looking serious, and stopping the horses on the mountain-top.

The Sugar-Loaf Mountain far away was peeping hazily over the giant ramparts of Catoctin, and up from the depths behind them followed the solemn green woods to where, upon this summit, lay ledges of sandstone, and the oak and chestnut trees shook with a coming tempest of wind and rain.

Fritz came straight up to the carriage, looked at Luther unhappily, and barked.

The city dog, with a vicious barking at Lloyd, took to the woodside and disappeared ahead in the road.

“Evil communications corrupt good manners, Luther,” Lloyd said. “My dog has tempted yours away.”

“Fritz,” spoke Luther to his dog, shaking his head, “was not in the hapit of leafing home, where he is my friend and guard.”

The dog came right up under the whip and barked with an excitement above apprehension, as if to say, “Whip me, but spare my pride!”

“Unfortunate dog!” exclaimed Luther, but more tenderly. “Can I do anything put send him home?”

The dog started back with head down, needing no further humiliation.

“Stop, Fritz!” Luther continued, his face lighting up, “does any person here speak for this tisopedient friend of mine, who has, perhaps, peen under pad atvice to-day?”

The dog had stopped, and when both Katy and Lloyd cried “Yes, do forgive him!” and Luther replied, “Very well, then,” the dog took his place meekly under the wagon, and they entered the summit forest.

The winding road-track through the fallen chestnut-leaves and stone-heaps reminded them of Atzerodt’s story, as they saw the pale, lemon-yellow leaves twirl in the rising gust like witches in a circle, and the squirrels run when mischievous lightning chased them from tree to tree. The clean trunks arose smoothly from stony ledges, and, ever young in form and foliage, though in their autumn days, the chestnut forest had an appearance pleasing even now in the grasp of coming storm. Something of the light and straight nature of the French was in it, tender in greenness, comely in maturity, engaging in the burr, and toothsome in the nut. However lofty the mighty shafts might rise, though monarchs of the forest, they had the complaisance and sentiment of kings in France.

Nothing crossed their way but wood-cutters’ paths barely traceable through the translucent goldness of the trees and litter, and the rail-splitters’ piles and chips seemed only larger yellow leaves and ferns that strewed the vistas. A cool, small cedar-tree occasionally appeared, like a green parasol in the bright sunshine; but nothing of man or domestic beast broke the Sabbath stillness of the mountain-tops — hardly the eagle yonder, so near overhead he almost touched the trees, like Jove taking his jealous watch and throwing from his eyes upon the woods below the citron glisten of Olympus.

“See!” whispered Nelly Harbaugh to Luther, “yonder are men — negroes — runaway slaves. There’s money for catching them, Luther! Quick!”

Across the road, not fifty yards before, passed two black men, one carrying the other.

The younger was barefooted and had no coat, and limped as he labored under the older man’s weight.

The old man seemed in the palsy of fear, or age, or disease, and, as he saw the carriage coming and women in it, a habit of courtesy, too old to be forgotten, made him take off the old straw hat he wore and bow almost idiotically and make a chattering noise.

Attracted by the movement, the young man turned and saw the carriage, and at a run, still limping, he bore the old man into the woods, flying to the north.

“Oh!” cried Nelly, “they’re gone; we might have caught them. Along this mountain they travel at nights. It’s hardly thirty miles across Maryland to the free State. We have got people here who live by catching them and get hundreds of dollars reward.”

“And a millstone it will pe around their necks,” exclaimed Luther.

“I reckon so, too,” Lloyd said. “Niggers oughtn’t to run away, but let somebody else than me do the catching.”

At this moment the pointer-dog, Albion, reappeared out of the place in the woods where the fugitives first emerged, and his delicate brown kid nose was trailing something.

“Hist!” cried Lloyd; “come here, Albion!”

Raising his head only to bark ill-naturedly, and striving to lick his torn ear once, the white and yellow pointer dropped to the scent again and darted into the opposite woods, barking.

“I hope he won’t petray those poor fellows,” Luther said, “but we can’t stop for him, for te rain is coming hard, and tere’s no shelter till we get to Smoketown.”

“Oh,” cried Nelly Harbaugh, “stop there at the fortune-teller’s!”

The storm now burst in half-sunny nonchalance upon the mountain they were on, and yet, while its lightnings leaped vengefully here, the parallel mountain, beyond the gorge they were overhanging, seemed to be serene as Sabbath, and through the mist of sheet-rain, at pauses, they could see its happy countenance of chestnut woods and sulphur-tinted leaves, waiting like one beatified martyr for another to pass through his fires.

With cool, executioner-like method, the spirits of the storm whipped the longer mountain’s back with rods of forked fire until it smoked, and the sound of riven trees beneath the thunderbolts seemed like the broken rods of Pilate’s soldiery shivered upon the unanswering Pioneer. Yet, sometimes red as blood, the electric current flowed along the hairy woodlands till rain, like floods of tears from heaven, streamed down to cool the mountain’s anguish, and groans, from none knew where, feebly or wail-like accompanied the tempest.

The road grew black; the steady gray wagon-horses shrank as if they would crawl upon their bellies; dust and water, thunder and flame mutinied against each other in their common purpose, and fought together without proceeding, while the great dike of the Blue Ridge Mountain buried itself in mystery or melted away.

“Why, this is hell, or the portent of it!” Lloyd Quantrell spoke, covering Katy with his body and arms.

“Say ‘Te Words,’ Lloyd,” he heard her whispering, “and we will pe happy.”

“Steaty, Jim! Steaty, Sam! Holt steaty, poys!” Luther Bosler’s voice spoke calmly; “it will soon pe ofer.”

A scream from Nelly Harbaugh at this moment, and the horses leaping in their harness and striving to break from the driver’s practiced hands, were occasioned by a sight in the road which seemed almost supernatural: a strange, half-transparent, rose-colored mist, like lava dissolved in wine, sprang up as if the lightning had been distilled and held a long moment in atmospheric solution, and through it were seen at the horses’ heads two men and two large hounds, gazing up at the carriage, and themselves surprised as much as its occupants.

The men were burly, coarse-looking, neither good nor evil of countenance, and clearly people of this world.

While the occupants of the carriage gazed at them for a period of time measured only by its vividness upon the nerves and heart, blackness, as of a cloud, came down again like a mighty crow alighting in the road, and with it a silence that was the Sabbath of the dead.

Slowly this yielded to the influences of a gentle shower and returning sun, and soon they saw the road before them plainly open, and the freshly twisted and prostrate trees embarrassing the way.

“What made you scream, Nelly?” asked Luther, stooping to kiss her.

“The slave-catchers,” cried Nelly. “Didn’t you see them?”

“Did you know their faces?”

“Oh, yes — Lew and Ben Logan. They watch at nights and on all the stormy days; for then the slaves are running. They’re rich, I reckon.”

“Not in conscience, I think,” mused Luther, getting down to examine his harness. “We must stop at te first house in Smoketown to tie up this breeching.”

“Oh, I’m so glad!” Nelly Harbaugh exclaimed. “That’s Hannah Ritner’s, the fortune-teller.”

“Lloyd,” cried little Katy, “I wasn’t frightened at all — you held me so close. And then you said ‘Te Words’ last night, and all your body was God’s.”


 

CHAPTER VII.

WITCH OF SMOKETOWN.

A LITTLE farther the South Mountain opened like an amphitheatre, and showed some patches of fields and farms at the base of their broken mounds; but the landscape was yet ragged and almost uninhabited till, on the descending road before them, some small houses of a poor appearance were finally seen straggling along, each to itself, as if they came together by accident and had hardly discovered each other, so embowered were they, in fruit-trees, weeds, gardens, and corn.

“There’s Smoketown,” Nelly Harbaugh cried; “some calls it Ginny Winders’s town. Old Ginny keeps a groggery for the blackberry-pickers, chestnut-sellers, wood-choppers, charcoal-burners, and slave-catchers. Oh, it’s a hard place!”

“I should think so,” Lloyd Quantrell remarked, looking at the near mountains and at a deep gorge behind him, like the wide-open throat of a wild beast ready to devour the scattered place; “it seems to me to be running away, like the children in the Bible chased by Elisha’s bears. Who is this Hannah Ritner?”

“She’s a stranger, but I reckon she’s lived here for years,” Nelly replied; “she’s religious, and teaches the poor children to spell and to sew. Some say she’s crazy, and that’s why they go to her to get their fortunes told. She tells them real true.”

By this time they had come to the first house in the place on the right-hand side — a small, very neat, whitewashed cottage, with an old blackened roof, and with a little portico in front, the latter covered with a trained blackberry-vine.

The house stood in a small arbored garden, and the mock-orange and gourd vines could be seen dropping their yellow or roan-gold fruit from these small arbors, and also from the locust-trees along the roadside paling. Yellow marigolds grew against the gable; bright flowers in whitewashed flower-pots showed along the path leading back to the door from the gate; and a willow-tree in the garden seemed to weep for an unmarked grave which was not there.

The fruit-trees and bean-poles and shocked corn added a look of rankness and weediness in the midst of such providence and taste, and the forest coming down from the stony hills behind, in bits of chestnut thicket and brush, seemed to wrap the small cottage in.

An old stable was at the edge of this forest, and paths went back from it into the rain-raveled mountain-spurs.

Nothing else Lloyd Quantrell could see but a large preserving-kettle in the garden, hung on a wooden crane; and while he looked at this, a gray and yellow fox, licking his chops of sirup, leaped up from the kettle and ran into the woods, followed hotly by Fritz.

Nelly Harbaugh stepped out first, at the entrance of a little lane, deeply shaded with cherry and plum trees, which crept back almost mysteriously to the stable; a horse was tied here, and she had barely seen it when a man came through the garden and stopped her in the lane.

“Andrew!” she exclaimed, and started to run back.

“Nelly!” cried Atzerodt — for it was he — and he seized her by the wrist.

The girl, a moment shrinking, drew her graceful figure up haughtily and cried, “If you strike me, I’ll have you repent in Hagerstown jail!”

“Going to haf your fortune told, Miss Nelly?” muttered the sallow, outcast man. “I’ll tell it to you, py Jing!”

His lips trembled with excitement. The girl tore her arm away, and with a quick gesture she picked up a stick from a flower-pot, rending out the deep-red rose which grew upon it. Lloyd Quantrell had quickly come upon the scene, and he marked the fine beauty of the girl thus impassioned and defiant.

“I declare, Nelly,” he said, “you’re as splendid now as a great actress on the stage!”

The words seemed to have a power to arrest Nelly Harbaugh’s attention even in her apprehensions.

“Am I, Lloyd?” she replied. “Oh, I would rather be that than anything in the world!”

“Dat is shoost what you are fit for, py Jing!” Atzerodt broke in. — “Luter Bosler, you got my girl; she’ll pe no good to you.”

“Come, Antrew, forget and forgive,” Luther remarked, coming forward from the horses; “pad words putter no parsnips.”

He reached out his hand, which the other repelled, and Atzerodt continued in a reckless yet suffering tone:

“Luter, she’ll get you in love and preak your heart. She is false to eferypody.”

“You lie!” exclaimed the girl, herself the dangerous person now, seeking to get past Quantrell and ply her stick on Atzerodt.

Lloyd interposed good-naturedly.

“She wants your money, Luter. She’s a cold-hearted Swisser, you pet. She’ll nefer marry you if somepody else will gif her petter clothes. Your poor heart will hang where mine is now, and den you’ll feel for me.”

He broke down in almost touching, though maudlin drunken misery, and the girl dropped her stake of wood and pushed past Lloyd Quantrell.

“I could not love you,” she said to Atzerodt. “You earn nothing; you can not support a wife. Never do you come near me again, but say good-by forever now.”

He called her an ugly word, which he had barely done when Lloyd, with a flat-hand blow, struck him to the grass, and stood over him, saying:

“What do you say before Katy?”

“Dear Andrew,” spoke Katy, coming forward, “come to church at Beaver Creek and be a petter man. If you don’t like us Dunkers, there is te Luteran church, and te Mennese church and te Brethren too, all close together.”

“Nelly Harbaugh,” continued Atzerodt from the ground, cowed but still revengeful, “you’ll nefer let me forgit you. Some day I’ll be hung on te gallows for you, I tink.”

He remained on the wet ground with his face in the weeds, and all left him there and went forward to the cottage.

As they approached it there was a sound of musical water, and across the embowered yard flowed a mountain stream so wide they could hardly step across it, and foaming now with the rain which no longer fell, but in the sky a rainbow took its place and spanned the mountain like an arch of beauty.

“My love,” spoke Lloyd, taking Katy’s arm, “the bow of promise is come already for us.”

“Lloyd,” she replied, “poor Andrew suffers so, it clouds my heart.”

The cottage seemed to be empty, and consisted of only one room and a kitchen, the latter low as the ground, the main room higher and containing a bed, an open Franklin stove, and a large flag-bottomed rocking-chair painted green. There was no other chair, but in a corner a glass-faced cupboard contained Delft plates and coffee service, and many bottles of cordials and home-made wines, and a line of jars of preserves, and also several books.

A Bible was on the window-sill and a candlestick beside it, and on the wall was a print in colors of Hagar and Ishmael, showing a large hand, as of a man, protruding from a door, with the palm raised against the mother and son, who were thus shut out.

Everything in this room was clean as it was plain, the bed-quilt sewn by hand from little rag savings, the wood scrubbed white, the stove polished, and flowers in water, on a little shallow mantel, diffused a subtle perfume.

“Hannah Ritner keeps no servant,” said Nelly Harbaugh. “See this beautiful candle! She makes it herself of bear’s grease and beeswax, and they say her light never goes out the longest night.”

Lloyd saw a movement at the stable in the rear of the house, and a tall woman came from it and walked at a dignified pace toward him.

She had coal-black hair, like the crow’s wing, falling in combed tresses below her waist, so that her shoulders and fine, straight, matronly form were half covered with these splendid waves of hair, in which some silver threads made barely an impression.

She was one of the finest women Lloyd had ever seen, with something almost grand in her stature and bearing, unbent, and her skin of a clear, pure tint, as if its roses could be called back if she would only exercise the will.

Her face was rather large than long, the jaws being of fine, ample mold, and her hair was cut off between the tresses in front, and the short tassel of jet-black frontlet there half covered her forehead, or nearly meeting the rich black eyebrows, and under these were dark eyes, large, melting, sad, compassionate, and full of thought, with black lashes sweeping her cheeks, and a nose long and fine, but neither straight nor aquiline, and like an inverted bow.

She was dressed in a dark gown, with a dark apron tied round her waist. No ornament was in her ears or on her neck or hands.

As she approached, this woman, seeing Lloyd, opened her large eyes wider, but did not stop nor hesitate, yet continued to look straight at him till his own eyes sank down under the soul-searching gaze of this noble-seeming and mysterious being.

Still advancing upon him — for he stood in the door between the house and kitchen, looking outward through another door — the woman made a grave, sweet inclination of her head and countenance, and said, nearly like a question, yet with recognition:

“Quantrell!”

He started with astonishment.

“Lloyd, is it not?” she continued, with a slightly German accent, but in a voice of deep music, worthy of a prophetess.

“Lloyd Quantrell is what they named me,” he exclaimed.

“Is your mother dead?”

“Yes, madam.”

“I read so. Have you come to see the fortune-teller? That is a sweet child I see behind you. Do you pretend to love her?”

“Pretend, madam?” Lloyd answered with indignation, yet also with accusation and fear. “I hope you are not tempting me.”

“God forbid!” she exclaimed, with stately reproof; “yet ye have golden tongues. What do you find to kill in these mountains like these simple birds of sex?”

She waved her hand toward the women.

At that moment Luther Bosler perceived the dog Albion come out of the woods and begin to scratch and whine around the little stable.

“Is that your dog?” the woman spoke, also looking toward the stable as if with some new interest. “Go bring him away, instantly!”

Luther, not Lloyd, started to do so. He found his own dog, Fritz, returned, and Fritz followed him obediently; but the English pointer was not tractable, and ran back into the chestnut and chinquapin brush, whither Luther followed, calling his name.

“Hannah,” spoke Nelly Harbaugh to the woman, “the harness is a bit broke, and we stopped to mend it. Won’t you tell our fortunes?”

“Idle request upon the Sabbath-day!” Hannah Ritner replied. “I have told one fortune for you to-day already. Is not your lover yonder?”

She pointed to where Atzerodt’s horse was tied in the secluded path.

Lloyd Quantrell, looking there, saw Atzerodt standing up and looking intently toward the stable.

“Give me your hand!” the seer commanded, taking Nelly’s in her own palm, and gazing with great candor and beauty of expression into her eyes.

Lloyd thought he had never seen together three more beautiful women than these.

Hannah Ritner then slowly spoke these lines, with such deep, distinct, and eloquent diction that Lloyd hoped she would speak more:

Ebbes dunkel und weiss marrick ich,
 Mit dunkla soll’s b’marricka dich!
 Gaed der roth-fogel uf ’n reis’,
 Dann waersht net dunkel or net weiss!

Nelly Harbaugh muttered something Lloyd believed to be the protecting “Words,” and dropped her fine blue eyes.

The fortune-teller, turning her own eyes to Lloyd, exclaimed:

“It is not my wont to tell on poor girls secrets that may smirch them in a man’s eyes. Here is her fortune as I gave it, put in English words.”

Still holding Nelly Harbaugh’s hand, Hannah Ritner recited to Lloyd and little Katy as follows, studying Katy meanwhile, and only once looking at the hand:

“Something dark and white I mark,
  It shall mark thee with the dark!
  When the red-bird takes his flight,
  Thou shalt not be dark or white!”

“Look out for the red-bird, Nelly,” Lloyd exclaimed; “the dove is my warning.”

Hannah Ritner caught the word and repeated it:

Die Dowb: that was the bird of the Holy Spirit which descended on the baptizers, cooing as it flew from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son!’ My well-beloved son!” she turned to Lloyd, with something very tender, yet sorrowful, in her great eyes, “you may be baptized with fire. Seek even in the fire for that immortal dove which bravely swept the Deluge with his tired pinions, and returned to the little ark of love at last. Why do you seek this simple maiden’s eyes as if their luster was the window of that ark to you? — She trembles while I ask. — Fear not, my little peasant-maid! I’ll tell your lover’s fortune, and, if I tell it true, never need you fear to come to Hannah Ritner and ask her counsel. — Lloyd, give me your hand!”

She took Lloyd’s hand, and little Katy, full of faith and yearning, took his other hand almost in stealth, and looked in Hannah Ritner’s eyes with simple pleading.

At that moment, Lloyd Quantrell, cool and undisturbed, saw the stable-door unclose, and a negro emerge, carrying an old man on his back, and, looking backward agonizingly, the negro stole down the embowered lane.

Lloyd looked again in Hannah Ritner’s eyes. He could not see them, for they were bent upon his hand, and, to his astonishment, some tears fell from somewhere on his palm.

“Why do you weep?” he asked; “I am nothing to you.”

“This is a large, strong hand,” answered Hannah Ritner, with deep feeling. “I see the marks of conflicts upon it, but not of toil. Oh, find some task to do, my son, and bless your Maker for sweet, constant occupation!”

“Tell my fortune!” spoke Lloyd. “I am not afraid to hear it. You will not hurt this little girl’s feelings, I know; for she is dear to me, Mother Hannah!”

At this familiar salutation, tears fell from Hannah Ritner’s eyes again, and she was unable to proceed for some time.

Throwing an arm around each, she drew both Lloyd and Katy to her breast, and, looking down on them, the silent tears fell from her splendid eyes all the more, and not like the tears of anguish, but of great commiseration.

Lloyd thought she was like the Virgin he had seen a picture of at the Catholic school, whose everlasting cause of love and woe was the successive ages of mankind, and their many sorrows, ever to recur.

Little Katy, also tearful and tender, reached up her lips and kissed the prophetess’s mouth, saying:

Fergeb uns unser shoolda! You must be good, I know.”

“God bless you, my child, for those sweet words!” said Hannah Ritner, quieted and strong again.

Looking now at Lloyd with deep interest, she repeated what he could not understand, in her beautiful intonation, thus:

“All’s game’s unna die Sunn Ich sae,
 Fer deina Flindt fleegt in die Höh;
 Und wann aw dodt sheest allum ort,
 Dann singt die Darddle-Daub doch fort!”

“Come, Mother Ritner!” Lloyd pleasantly entreated, yet feeling something remarkable to be in this person, and a slight sense of superstition in himself, “you will not leave my fate such a Dutch riddle as that? Tell my coming luck in English, too!”

The strange, stately woman tapped her forehead as if seeking to recollect or to compose, or, at least, to translate something.

“I have spent so much of my time, my children, among these mountain poor, teaching them in Dutch, that my English verse comes slowly back to me, and I am growing old, too, and memory and wit are weaker.”

With the same slight German accent she then made the translation of Lloyd’s fortune, not readily, yet with eloquence, like profound conviction:

“All the game beneath the sun
 Shall rise up before thy gun;
 When thou killest everything,
 Still the turtle-dove will sing!

“Thank God for that, Katy!” Lloyd exclaimed. “Let the turtledove be heard, whatever happens to us. — And now, Mother Ritner, dear little Katy is waiting to have her fate told before she goes to church; for Luther, I reckon, has mended the harness by this time.”

“I must be quick,” Hannah Ritner said; “for I am strangely nervous this morning. It seems to me I hear the baying of dogs. Katy, let me see your hand! Why, my darling, the lines in it are almost like my own. I can tell your fortune easily.”

As she repeated the following lines, Katy listened with deepening awe and final trembling, so that Lloyd kissed her to his heart, at the end:

“In dara hond sae Ich en Ring
 Ferleera, sollsht du’s, schoenes ding!”

Katy heard with prayerful wonder and fear. The seer spoke to her with deep and solemn tones the next couplet, as follows:

“Doch bawdst du fer’s im krickly noof,
 Dan sollsht du’s finna bei ’ma Buch!”*

[* These predictions are all translated into Pennsylvania Dutch by Thomas C. Zimmerman, of Reading, Pa.]

As she spoke, Hannah Ritner accidentally laid her hand upon the Bible.

“Now for the English, Mother Hannah!” Lloyd exclaimed seeing that Katy Bosler looked pale and frightened.

“What noises are those?” Hannah Ritner whispered. “Surely it is the blood-hound’s bark I hear! Who is at my stable?”

She strode through the kitchen and shouted:

“What do you there? Stealers are ye of the souls and bodies of your fellow-men!”

Lloyd, Katy, and Nelly following, they beheld come out of the small chestnuts behind the stable, first the dog Albion, very animated and frolicsome, and he threw himself into the attitude of pointing game a few steps from the stable-door.

Next there bounded from the same thicket three dogs apparently fighting, and one of these was engaged in a clinched struggle with another, which bayed deep and loud; and the third dog, a great blood-hound, rushed upon the stouter of these dogs and bit him terribly, while Albion also barked as he “pointed,” and so the air was full of fierce, savage noises.

Luther Bosler, going to the relief of the injured dog, which was now seen to be his own Fritz, was himself set upon by the two hounds, and they seemed to be on the point of tearing him to pieces, when out of the thicket rushed the two men already related to have crossed the mountain during the thunderstorm, and both of these shouted loudly to the blood-hounds and pulled them separate ways.

“It’s the Logan boys,” exclaimed Nelly Harbaugh; “husht se g’sana? There must be runaway slaves hiding about Hannah Ritner’s house.”

“Go in there at your peril, hyenas!” shouted Hannah Ritner, throwing herself between the stable and the pursuers. “This land is mine, and I will defend it with my life!”

She had drawn upon her head a large leghorn hat, and as she spread her arms across the stable-door and put her back against it and threw her fine white throat and strongly pointed chin up, the long elf-hair fell so wildly and so dead black down from her pallid face that both the men halted a moment irresolutely.

Lloyd Quantrell’s ill-starred dog, however, dashed at Hannah and barked his ill-tempered and short, snappish dislike. Lloyd himself knocked the dog over with a stone, and it retired yelping a little distance, and again, with one fore-leg extended and the other lifted crookedly as if lame, raised its muzzle toward the stable, put its tail out straight, and cast its eyes trancefully sidewise like a somnambulist.

The long hounds bounded against the stable as if resolved to throw it down.

“Infernal dog!” thought Lloyd; “but a pointer’s a hound, too, bred on a spaniel. — Open that door, Hannah!” Lloyd raised his voice. “If their niggers are not there, I’ll fill both these loafers’ hounds with shot.”

“They shall not go in!” Hannah Ritner cried.

“Interfere with us at your peril, young man!” the taller of the ruffians said, but without any temper. “We’ve suspected this place a good while, and now we’ve got a warrant to search it. The dogs trailed right yer.”

He produced his warrant, and, as he walked to Hannah Ritner and presented it, his companion slipped in at the rotten stable-side.

Hannah moved a little way to examine the warrant, and the stable-door, pushed open from within, showed nothing there but a lady’s horse, all saddled, and nibbling at his fodder.

The two slave-catchers hastily examined the inside of the stable; their dogs, assisted by Albion, smelling and seeking everywhere, but in vain.

“We may be mistaken,” said one of the men, a little pale, and hitching up his wet water-proof boots, “but we shall now search the house.”

“There’s nothing there,” Lloyd Quantrell sternly interposed, “and now I’ll pepper both your dogs with my gun, as I have promised.”

Lloyd started at a quick stride toward the wagon at the end of the lane. He had walked but a step, however, when a voice was heard to cry:

“Coom on! Te niggers is here, poys, and te reward is mine, py Jing!”

At the end of the little lane, the black boy before observed, with the old negro man upon his back, was receding and trembling before Lloyd Quantrell’s gun cocked at Andrew Atzerodt’s shoulder.

“I shoost found tis gun in te wagon,” Atzerodt exclaimed, “and took it and headed off tese niggers after tey had walked ofer me in tis lane.”

The hunters and their dogs dashed forward; the young man was overthrown and the old man fell heavily to the ground, and the wild dogs set upon them till dragged away.

When silence was restored after the baying thunder, the old black man still lay where he had fallen, and the younger man, bloody and nearly naked after struggling with the dogs, looked down upon him in despair.

“Father!” he cried, “is you hurt? Oh, speak to me, father!”

With a painful effort the old man turned from his side to his back, looked up into his son’s face with a convulsive shudder of his lineaments, and saying, “Honey, I’s mos’ gone,” straightened out, stone dead.

The young man knelt, clammy with the sweat for life and freedom, and raising his hands, clasped together, above his head, sobbed out the words:

“Father! Daddy! Don’t die now, when I’se carried ye so fur. I’ll go back to ole missis and take it all on me!”

The old man’s jaw had fallen; his gray hairs only moved in the mountain zephyrs; he seemed worn out with age and terror, and very quiet in the light of God.

“Oh!” shouted the young man, turning toward the spectators of the scene, his hands still lifted prayerfully together, “kill me, won’t you, and let me reign with daddy? — Reign, Lord!” he screamed with sudden, awful ecstasy, “and let me die and reign with father, too. I kin die under de whip if I kin reign!”

His streaming eyes were strained with this religious despair, till their gleaming pupils grew small upon the great white disks of his eyeballs. He was a sinewy, high-purposed young man, and the dogs came forward and glared at him as if he might be dangerous yet.

But as he prayed for human hands to give him death, his own long toil in night and storm, bramble and mountain, carrying that old man, and the excitement of his sorrow, threw him in a fit upon the earth — blind, silent, desolate.

The handcuffs of the Logans were fastened on his wrists, even before he fell, and while he appealed to human nature and to God.

“Off with him, while he’s quiet!” spoke the elder Logan to his brother. “There’s no reward for the older chap, and so we’ll leave his body here for the neighbors, or the birds.”

The two short, thick-set men, tying the unconscious negro’s limbs, lifted him on their shoulders and started to go.

“Stop!” interposed Andrew Atzerodt; “I caught dat nigger, and want my money for him.”

“The reward is three hundred dollars,” replied the slave-dealer; “here is a hundred for your share, if you put in no further claim.”

He passed a bank-note to the haggard man, who looked at it with fervor and accepted it, and then, turning to Nelly Harbaugh in a moment of revulsion and triumph, he cried:

“I earn nothing? Heigh? I can’t support a wife? Heigh? Take it, Nelly, and I’ll pecome a nigger-ketcher and make you rich, py Jing!”

The girl seemed attracted by so much money. She hesitated.

“Off with you!” hoarsely spoke Luther Bosler. “It is te Sabbath, and I would not fight. But this insult to a lady excites me. Plood-money to a woman engaged to be married to an honest man?”

His slow, intense exasperation was like some giant’s aroused power — infectious, because so deep and real. Lloyd Quantrell felt it, and wresting his gun from Atzerodt’s hand, he cried:

“Luther, I’m with you. We two can clean all three of these ruffians out.”

He looked at his caps and raised the bright twisted barrel. The dogs perceived disorder near and growled ominously.

“You are too good a citizen, Bosler, to break the law,” exclaimed the slave-taker. “Let us go in peace. We only do our duty under the compromise laws of the United States and the warrant of the State of Virginia.”

“Put down that man!” Lloyd Quantrell said to the speaker, with the cool zest of collision in him.

“I’ll put him down,” the mountain ranger answered, “at the town of Harper’s Ferry, and not before!”

The two girls became alarmed at the scene before them, and Atzerodt moved toward his horse.

“Go!” spoke Luther Bosler, with deadly calm. “God’s vengeance hovers ofer tis guilty land!”

“It will come to-night!” pealed the deep tones of Hannah Ritner, as she walked forward. “Let me prophesy with head uncovered, as the Scripture commands woman to do!”

She threw her hat upon the ground and turned her face to the south. Her long, wild hair she threw behind her shoulders with sudden nervous energy, and her large dark eyes seemed inverted and gazing inward, and her tones were like a woman’s who had never spoken with human people, but had wandered alone, talking loudly with herself.

“These are the two angels sent to Sodom” — she indicated the slave-catchers. “Turn in, my lords, and tarry in my house and wash your feet! For ye are compassed round. The mountain fires shall drown ye and yon city to which ye go. The cry of the poor, waxed great before God’s face, calls for destruction, and it will not be put off. I see the chimneys reel, the hearth-stone shattered, the churches hollow, and the rivers flowing red. Escape? Ye can not! Brimstone and fire shall mingle this night, and the smoke of the country go up as the smoke of a furnace!”

She ceased, as if still talking to herself. The dogs whined, and the men looked at each other.

“She’s crazy,” said Lew Logan.

“Come, leave her,” spoke his brother Ben; “we are twenty miles from Harper’s Ferry.”

They went at a rapid walk up the gorge, followed by Atzerodt.

A moment after they had disappeared from view, Hannah Ritner, resuming her natural tones, turned to the remaining persons and said:

“You will be late at love-feast. I thought to go there with you. But I must take a long ride.”

As they were getting into the wagon, she went past on a nimble-footed saddle-horse, dropping them a courteous farewell.

“It seems to me I have seen a horse like that before,” Lloyd Quantrell thought; “she’s mounted like a huntress.”


 

CHAPTER VIII.

BEAVER CREEK DUNKERS.

ALL made spasmodic remarks, with no great intelligibility of plan or reflection, on the foregoing scene — the law to capture and return fugitive slaves having been in recent years established by Congress with the aid of all the great statesmen and the President of the United States, for the purpose of composing the country, which seemed, indeed, perfectly tranquil now, excepting many such agonizing episodes as that just given, but which it was thought unpatriotic and disturbing to describe or discuss.

“What was your fortune, Katy?” Lloyd asked as they came to the top of a hill and saw before them a bounding prospect of fields uptilted, and woods in plumes and crowns, giving every well-plowed farm a human look like hair worn strong, yet comely.

“Hush, Lloyd!” Katy said, “it was not good; so let me be still and think of the Lord’s supper till we come to church.”

“Yonder is Beaver Creek Dunker meeting-house,” Nelly Harbaugh spoke to Lloyd, indicating nearly two miles away a low white building like a long school-house half sunken behind a moundy brown hill, and defined against a higher crest of green. At the foot of the hills they descended, woods and notches in the bottoms were signs of a stream there, and the far eastern horizon rose up like a mighty rampart as if it were an ocean’s confines.

“That is the Antietam country,” Luther exclaimed, “and Peaver Creek is a part of it. Our mother, Nelly, was from Antietam, put she loved Peaver Creek pecause she met father there one love-feast week. Tey slept in te garret of te church, as us Tunkers do, and many a marriage, Nelly, comes out of tese homely ways we haf of living like te tisciples, watching with our Master, and eating of te Passover lamb.”

“Passover!” exclaimed Lloyd; “that’s a Jew jubilee of some kind, I reckon?”

“Yes, and all te early Christians were Jews. When te Lord slew te first-born of all te Egyptians, te Jews in Egypt killed a lamb and marked teir doors, so te angel of death would see te lamb’s plood-mark and go past. Tey always eat te Passover afterward, and so did te Christian Jews, and so do we. Tunkers and Moravians, I pelieve, is all that does it now. Te sacrament is not te love-feast, put te Lord’s supper. We keep te feast; we kill a lamb, and Jew and Catholic is welcome. We don’t drive te hungry away like Saint Paul; for it can’t pe any harm in peing hungry.”

“Ah! Luther,” Lloyd exclaimed, “Judas was at the last supper, and got the sop above all the others. Money was what ailed him. Are not you good Dutch fond of money?”

“Luther worships it,” Nelly Harbaugh exclaimed, patting her lover on the back. “He and his father want to be rich and nothing else. If I was rich I would want more than that: education, admiration, and splendor. But I can make Luther love them, too, and bring them to me.”

“Money,” Luther reflected aloud, “is te convenient result of industry and care. Whatever else we want, money fetches it. We Dutch puys land with it for our children.”

Nelly blushed as he looked at her.

“Her first blush,” Lloyd Quantrell thought, “since I have seen her. Then she loves that man! She will not blush for me.”

“We can not spend our money, Lloyd,” Luther continued, “if we keep diligent, pecause we have no fashions. Our clothes is te same from year to year. We do not take usury, so we do not take risks, and we do not go to law to maintain corrupting lawyers who create quarrels; Tunkers never sue one another. Te man who cheats, cheats only himself. We never fight, nor swear, nor shave our peards; so we require no barbers. Our women work and do not strain the men for their luxury. Children are plenty here, and we puy more land for tem. Education is good if it does not make people saucy and tisputatious and lazy; occupation is te only thing that peats education. Te world has plenty if people live simple and love their neighbor, who is their fellow-man. That was a fellowman tey carried back to slavery. No good can come of it.”

Lloyd Quantrell had prejudices the stronger for his superficial good-humor, and he flushed as quickly as he spoke:

“You Dutch and Yankees — for I reckon you’re the same breed — declare war on interest and property till you get some of it. I can say that from some experience,” Lloyd remarked apologetically, for Katy had raised her large eyes at his suppressed tones, “because my father was a Yankee, and once had your ideas, but shaving notes and leasing my niggers are now his chief interests.”

“You must be rich,” Nelly Harbaugh exclaimed. “Have you got slaves, too?”

“Yes,” said Lloyd, “fifty slaves, worth to-day thirty-five thousand dollars. That is, my father is my trustee for them. My mother left me her slaves. My father leases them in Charles County.”

“Has your father slaves also?” Luther Bosler asked.

“No. He took my mother’s land and personal property. The slaves are more salable. I suspect he took the less advantageous property because he had prejudices like yours, Luther.”

Nelly Harbaugh stared at Lloyd with all her might, hearing he was so rich.

“Katy,” she cried, with a breath from her fine aquiline nose, “your lover is the richest man you ever saw. Now make him marry you!”

This time the blush was Lloyd’s. He glanced at Katy, whose face was turned toward her lap, and she, looking up, now showed her eyes all wet with tears.

“Darling,” cried Lloyd, “Nelly has hurt your feelings. You do not love me for my money.”

“Oh!” Katy murmured through her sobs, “der auram mon hut koe haimat.”

“What does she say?” Lloyd asked of Nelly, drawing Katy’s head into his hands.

“She says, ‘That poor man has no home.’ I guess she’s thinking of that lazy, runaway slave.”

“We can go to the feast,” Katy sobbed convulsively, “to the Lord’s feast. He must go back and be whipped. Ich con sell net shtande.”

“If he can stand it, you can, Kate,” Nelly Harbaugh answered, gayly. “Lloyd has fifty slaves, he says. Did you hear that?”

“I wish,” said Katy, “that he was poor. It’s selfish, but I do. For now I see that the fortune-teller’s verse is coming true.”

“What was it, my gentle dove?” whispered Lloyd.

“I nefer saw so many doves, I think, as this morning,” Luther Bosler remarked, overhearing the word. “See them flying down the pike before us!”

They all looked out, and behold! the doves were in the stony road, trotting across it or perching on the worm-fence rails at the sides, or flying like little living windmills straight before, picking sustenance in the grass, tame and trusting, coy and fluttered, and seeming to wonder why the dog Albion chased them so fiercely, while his companion, Fritz, kept demurely at the wagon’s tail as if Fritz also had religious inclinations as he drew near church.

“Wild pigeons come by millions on the high Alleghany Mountains,” Lloyd exclaimed. “These ring, and ground, and turtle doves are plentiful. They can’t sing, and yet that fortune-teller thought so, for she ignorantly said to me:

‘When thou killest everything,
 Still the turtle-dove will sing.’

Nonsense!” concluded Lloyd Quantrell, still looking at the flying doves with queer feelings at his heart.

“Here is Peaver Creek mills,” Luther remarked, “where te Tunkers paptizes.”

A large stone mill with low door and hoisting-gear in the gable stood on the right, and beyond it was a mill-pond falling across a stone dam, and bordered by thick willows and tall sycamores, and in the running waste below the dam were islets, over one of which a noble water-oak spread its branches.

Beyond the creek a large stone house and some barns clung between the water and the hill, and on the left of the road, by a store and post-office, were a few other limestone dwellings and barns, giving the hidden hamlet that picturesqueness and mystic social drone in which old mills resemble old matrons with their spinning-wheels and family brood.

People were seen going to other churches off on the right in smart spring wagons or finer market carryalls.

Luther drove to the rack and tied his horses. A hundred or more worldly looking rustics saw the Dunker family descend and pass through the open gate, and gazed at Lloyd Quantrell’s tall, city-clad figure with surprise, hardly dissembled by politeness.

Nelly Harbaugh, gathering up her hoops and flounces, spoke to several of these intruders as she passed through them. Little Katy, with her eyes to the ground, took her brother’s arm and passed in.

The meeting-house was plain and long, and its low ceiling admitted no galleries. Wooden benches were stretched along its width, and faced that only side which had no door, while two aisles crossed each other at the middle of the church, entered by a door in each of the other three walls.

The door opposite the gable was open, and looking there Lloyd saw, to his astonishment, a great fireplace and an immense cook-stove before it, and in the fireplace something was roasting from a crane and hooks, while the stove was nearly red-hot, and large pots were steaming upon it and emitting the savor of animal food.

A man came down a winding stairway in the corner of the church, and closed a cupboard door there behind him, and, passing to some naked tables at the blank side of the church, opened a little trap in the wall and took out a Bible and hymn-book. This man was dressed, like Jake Bosler and Luther, in a coat of dark drab color, or rather pepper-and-salt mixture, and vest and trousers of the same.

As the man lined out a hymn in English, Luther Bosler took the front seat on one side of the preacher, beside his father and other Dunker men, and Katy took the front seat on the other side of the aisle among the women, and, slipping off her sun-bonnet, sat in her white night-cap, as it seemed to be, corresponding to the dress of her companions.

Lloyd hesitated where to sit, till Nelly Harbaugh drew him into a long seat at right angles to the preacher and to Katy and to the congregation. Behind them was the cupboard door opening upon the garret stairs.

“The church will be full of the family,” Nelly whispered — “they call the membership the ‘family’ — and there may be no room for us.”

The singing had already commenced, and Katy’s child’s voice and Luther’s strong tenor were heard in the strain, and without further delay Lloyd Quantrell, catching the tune, also dropped his bass notes in, and Katy thrilled to hear the bold, manly music, going to her heart.

The Dunker men and women turned their faces toward the church corner to see the brown-haired, broad-headed young man unaffectedly singing there, and then they looked at Katy, wondering.

Lloyd Quantrell was a large man, several inches more than six feet high, with a broad back, large hips, straight legs, and erect carriage. His hands and feet were large and strong, his neck was powerful; his eyes were a greenish gray, very clear-sighted, with large dark centers, and he had jaws full of strong, white, clean teeth, almost too large for a gentleman.

Ready, joyous, mildly imaginative, voluptuous, nearly tender — one feared, while Lloyd smiled, that some day he might think and frown.

He was now looking with a Marylander’s patriotism at a kind of worship he had never before heard of.

The preacher had prayed, and was saying something in broken English, and one by one the brethren first, and then the Dunker sisters, arose and passed by him and whispered, and he made for each a mark in a book.

“What is it?” Lloyd asked in a whisper.

“They’re making a preacher,” whispered Nelly Harbaugh. “After love-feast they’ll tell his name.”*

[* A Dunker love-feast generally occupies two or more week-days. For purposes of narration it is here condensed into a Sunday.]

The window was open near Quantrell, and showed the Blue Ridge or South Mountain soft as a line of deep-green melons with some dull citron in their rind, lying along the horizon, but so near to the eye, it seemed as if they ripened on the window-sill.

So limpid was the air, so soft the mountain tints, Lloyd thought they were his morning thoughts reflected in the mirror of his conscience, and softly impelled onward by his delighted heart; yet, as he looked, shadows of clouds rippled those bars of mountain, like swans in lakes, and they seemed transparent and to reveal their dreams.

Tingling, warming, ebbing, flowing, he felt his blood quicken to the love he encouraged yet forbade, and the mountains stretching across the pastoral upland flushed, cooled, sparkled, darkened, and thrilled with his own feelings.

“Why is everything so painfully distinct, so full of meaning and presentiment, so rapt, so haunted and so haunting?” Lloyd asked himself. “Is it love? I will not have it so, but so it is!”

The crowd outside the church increased in numbers and irreverence. They were playing games upon the slope, “Puss in the Corner” and kissing-games like “Copenhagen,” and now and then loud laughter, or the scream of some hoyden, broke the quiet tones of the preacher and the singing.

Within the church nearly every seat was full of communicants: plain men in long, straight hair falling back upon their shoulders, and beards unshaved and unshorn except the mustache, which none wore; women in well-fitting black frocks with a little cape sewed upon them, and small white caps, almost transparent, tied beneath the chin and showing the smooth hair combed within.

Some of these women were comely to look upon, with skins of temperance and eyes of zest; others were fat and dull, and merely amiable; and others yet were old and wrinkled, and submissive, like women in whom beauty and life have ceased to strive.

Katy sat there conscious, repentant, seeking, listening to the words with submission, fluttered by worldly passions, ready to cry out with pain, tender with gratitude.

Lloyd saw her hymn-book in her hand, and thought of her belief in witches, strong as her faith in God; and his brain framed the words:

“The dear little Dutch darling!”

Turning to Nelly Harbaugh, he beheld a finer woman in everything but sensibility, to whose eagle strength Katy continued the similitude of the dove.

Nelly had a Roman nose, giving masculinity to her face, a nose which a man might have envied, so finely cut it was, and so like leadership. And the blue eyes and heavy arched eyebrows equally became a resolute, ambitious man’s face. But the lower lip and chin, however heroically modeled — the chin square — took the softness of maidenhood. The eyes also looked longing, as for love.

The hand in her lap was large but fine, and the arm beside it, which Lloyd drew into his own, was modeled handsomely, and hard like ivory.

“Don’t!” Nelly whispered, “you sly, rich man. They’re going to make the preacher now.”

There was already a commotion of some kind about the front of the congregation, and new arrivals pouring in forced the mere spectators from their benches, and, their places being demanded, Lloyd opened the stairway door, and he and Nelly went up a few steps and could see over the heads of all.

“My Lord!” Nelly Harbaugh whispered, “Luther is the new preacher!”

The elder minister or Bishop was standing by Luther Bosler, and little Katy was between them. The minister shook Katy’s hand, and, putting his arm around Luther’s neck, deliberately kissed him upon the bearded mouth.

Lloyd Quantrell pulled the door nearly fast, to hide his involuntary laughter.

“Don’t mock us!” Nelly Harbaugh said, with a look of pain. “I shall have to stand there with him when we are married, and promise to do his work while he keeps the church together. They don’t often make single men preachers. Katy takes my place to-day.”

Opening the door, Lloyd saw a procession of the members, one by one rising and going toward the altar-space, and there each man kissed Luther Bosler, each woman kissed Katy Bosler, the women shook Luther’s hand, the men shook Katy’s hand, and so they passed on, till Jake Bosler’s turn came, and he fastened his wild, hairy face to his son’s mouth and rich dark beard, and coming away full of tears and emotion, was heard to articulate:

“Luter — Himmel— mootter — Bi’m-by!”

Lloyd had to laugh again, and pulled the door upon his delight, never having seen in his life one man kiss another.

“Excuse me, Nelly,” he sighed between his spasms of laughter, “but this grizzly-bear kissing really beats the Dutch!”

“You must kiss men, too,” Nelly said, “when you become a Dunker. Oh, Katy will make you one! She never gives up anything.”

This increased Lloyd’s laughter. When he again widened the aperture, Luther Bosler was standing alone, and the brethren and sisters were in prayer. As they rose and burst into singing, the young Baltimorean again contributed his melodious voice, and Katy stole a glance to see her lover, as far in piety as music would advance him, singing straight toward her humble heart.

“Oh,” thought Katy, “if he could only know how religion makes us love! He will love the world till God brings him to me.”

She heard her brother commence to speak, and something almost like pride started in her mind, that she had a brother great and wise enough to be a minister.

Lloyd Quantrell also heard, in spite of the silly laughter and interruptions through the church-windows, the manly tones of Katy’s brother, reading from the Bible the epistle old Saint Paul dispatched to them under the golden cornices of Corinth, in the day when, like a carrier-bird, the Christian carried the straw from the manger to build a nest in the acanthus capitals of the temple columns of the pagan gods.

With a slightly reproving look at the careless crowd without, Luther read:

One is hungry and another is drunken. What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Despise ye the church of God?

As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Whosoever shall eat and drink unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I would have ye know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man.”

Luther turned from the word and began to speak, plainly, slowly, modestly.

He told of the long struggle to extricate the Christian life from the pomp of ecclesiasticism and the caprices of theologians, and find in it the example of the disciples.

Princes and armies surrounded the Lutherans and kept them worldly; the Calvinists imitated their enemies, and wanted rebellion and conquest. Some found comfort in an intellectual formula like “justification by faith,” or “the republic of the saints.”

A few simple men like Menno and Landis, some of them Catholic priests, some students by prayer of the four Evangelists, resisted all conformity and formality, clinging to the holy life of the Son of woman.

Like a little thread from the land of Palestine trailing to the Alpine valleys, where the Waldenses lived in brotherhood, and thence to the springs of the Rhine and Danube, the tradition of the simple truth preceded the worldly Reformation which was irritated by its perseverance.

The spirit of St. Peter with the sword, the spirit of St. Paul with his dogma, resented the quiet faith of St. James, who was baptized again, and mirrored his brother Jesus in his calm heart.

Burned alive, banished, forbidden sepulture, exposed in cages to starve, torn between contending armies, the Baptist brethren, Swiss, Dutch, or German, bided their time till William Penn, at the end of one hundred and fifty years, heard of them, and opened the New World to those faithful sheep.

Non-resistants, submissionists, with an unpaid clergy, without other doctrine than what Christ did, they preserved in their Western vales the brotherhood of the disciples — not faith, not chiefly hope, but greatest of them all, love, which could die, but could not hate.

A tender intelligence and conviction spread from Luther’s tones and eyes, and Lloyd forgot his uncouth dress and shaggy hair.

Luther was animated, by his engagement to Nelly, to dwell upon the family rest, where, at the table, every day, sat the almost visible Christ, saying, “Abide with me.”

Quantrell turned to Nelly, and her eyes were wet with tears.


 

CHAPTER IX.

THE SACRAMENT.

A SUDDEN rising of the congregation, and clearing of certain benches, pressed the Dunker people back upon the spectators, and again the twain withdrew into the staircase, and this time they passed into the loft. It was lighted by the round window in the end, and, looking down into the yard, they saw the parasites of the love-feast eating bread, and meat, and pickles, and sweet things, as they came in procession from the kitchen door.

The loft was divided by pine planks across the middle, and the men’s side, which they were in, was strewn with clean straw and some straw mattresses, for the lodgers at the love-feast.

“It will be full,” Nelly said. “The Dunkers love to imagine themselves the disciples living together, like the Christian family. How can I ever be good enough for such a life?”

She seemed in real penitence and awe, and it occurred to Lloyd Quantrell to test the depth of her feeling. He took her hand and drew her to him, and in the low garret passed his arm around her.

“Do you love this obscure preacher,” he asked, “so much that, if I were to tell you I admired you, you would refuse for him — Baltimore?

Her eyes shone, and next they flashed. She pushed him away.

“Do not deceive yourself, Lloyd,” she said, with dignity. “You can not deceive me. Katy is your passion. If she were not, I would prefer Luther Bosler to you.”

“You are complimentary, queen!”

“You are rich, I suppose, but you have no ambition. He has — to be a good man. That is better than being a play-boy. Oh, how I love that man!” Nelly exclaimed, bursting into tears.

“Forgive me!” Lloyd spoke, in an impulse of respect and regret. “I had not given you credit for such feelings. Why do you cry?”

“Because I am so absolutely unworthy of him,” answered the girl, permitting herself to be caressed. “He is peaceful and just; I am full of restless things, and know that I am beautiful. Am I not, Lloyd?” she asked, almost with eagerness, suddenly drying her tears. “You live in a great city: do I compare with the fine ladies there?”

“Few have such splendid style,” Lloyd replied, slowly and with judgment. “But it is no place for you. Men who would marry you in Baltimore would not have the respect for you — they do not possess the sober merits — that Luther has.”

“What can I do?” Nelly Harbaugh asked. “If I could make Luther an ambitious man, and turn his mind to the world, we might be made for each other. We are for each other. I love him with fear and rest. But out yonder” — she pointed beyond the mountains — is a life that often calls me. I think I have talent as well as beauty.”

“Beware, Nelly,” Lloyd spoke low and sagely; “you heard what Luther read, ‘The head of the woman is the man’ —”

“‘And the head of the man’ — my man — ‘is Christ’; that condemns me to be buried in these mountains — a Dunker preacher’s wife.”

“But you are poor and he is prosperous. He has been indulgent to you. He knows it will be hard to reduce you to his image, but, in love, he takes the chance.”

The girl’s face softened in all its bold and spirited outlines, and she seemed profoundly moved.

“Why can’t I feel religious?” she asked. “Why won’t I submit? What makes me fear when I ought to be so happy? Last night I would have married Andrew Atzerodt. To-day, engaged to the man I respect above all in the world, I want to tear him from his content and conscience.”

She threw herself upon one of the freshly filled beds, with her head in her hands.

Her almost extravagant splendor of form, and straightness of neck, and spine, and limbs, and her length of tresses, in color like the straw, Lloyd Quantrell beheld, with rising dislike and dread of this woman continuing to be Katy’s friend.

“Sis,” spoke Lloyd, with cool familiarity, “you must be what they call an adventuress. It means a woman who would rather fool many men than not cheat herself. Be honest with this honest fellow Luther, and quarrel with him to-day!”

Nelly Harbaugh started up, and the spark of temper in her brain gave passionate character to her countenance, which Lloyd admired without losing his coolness.

“And you be honest with Luther’s honest sister!” the girl exclaimed. “Take your advice to yourself. God knows I love Luther Bosler, and always shall!”

Jake Bosler’s head appeared above the stairs looking at them, both in ill temper now, and he said:

“Nelly — Lloyd — love-feast — Bi’m-by!”

When they descended the wooden steps, the church had been darkened by closing all the shutters, and some tin lamps and candlesticks gave, with their flame, the aspect of night to the curious scene.

Every third bench had been turned over and made into a table upon the other two. The front benches remained full of worshipers, and the kitchen door, wide open, disclosed some beams of day, and also a pantry of dishes and of jars, and the stove and fireplace with diminished heat.

Through this door Dunker men were bringing white table-cloths, and piles of tin pans and plates, and iron spoons and knives and forks. All was clatter and decisive tread, yet with sobriety and respect.

After the tables were ready, large tubs were brought in, steaming with broth, and meat and pickles and apple-butter were placed up and down the table, and bread, in slices and quarter loaves.

Next two tubs were brought in and set one before the men and one before the women on the front line of benches.

“What’s coming now?” Lloyd Quantrell inquired.

“The feet-washing,” whispered Nelly Harbaugh.

By this time the tables, covering much of the church space, were occupied everywhere with waiting rows of Dunker brethren and sisters sitting neatly and by sexes. The dim light shone on the silver hairs of many, and here and there were sleeping babies at their mothers’ breasts.

Suddenly the Dunker bishop began to read the story of the last supper, from St. John:

“Jesus riseth from supper and laid aside his garments.”

At this two stalwart Dunkers arose and took off their coats, and two women arose on the women’s side.

“And he took a towel and girded himself.”

The attending Dunkers wrapped towels around their waists, and knelt by the tubs of clean water.

“After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. . . . Jesus said, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.’”

The Dunker men and women on the front row were taking off their shoes and stockings.

Jake Bosler’s feet seemed to stray around everywhere as they were disclosed under the lamp-light.

Little Katy’s feet barely flashed a moment in the Dunker woman’s hands, and the sound of splashing water was heard. An instant more, Lloyd saw the little girl’s feet shine in the woman’s towel as they were being wiped.

Then the Dunker quadrant went on washing and wiping others, till their own turn came, when they submitted to be also bathed and wiped.

The men kissed every man whose feet they washed; the women kissed every woman after wiping her feet.

A disposition to laugh was deterred by the solemn reading of the gospel — at times in Luther’s deliberate voice:

“If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. Now I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

“Is that in the Bible?” Lloyd Quantrell asked himself. “Then perhaps these people are the only obedient disciples.”

The feet-washing ended with a hymn, and then the love-feast began.

“Lloyd!” a resonant voice called. It was Luther Bosler, unable to press his way to where they stood.

“Come, sir,” Nelly Harbaugh whispered, “or they will all be looking at us.”

Hardly aware why, Lloyd followed the girl, for whom Katy had kept a seat beside herself.

“You sit over here, Lloyd; Katy wants you to do so,” Luther Bosler spoke, showing Quantrell a place among the Dunker men.

These with kind countenances seemed to welcome him. In a minute the tin plates down the table were filled with hot mutton broth, and a man handed Lloyd a spoon and motioned to the full plate before him.

As the young man put his spoon into it, three other Dunker men did the same, all eating from the same dish.

With difficulty Lloyd refrained from choking himself with the savory mouthful, such laughter shook his stomach.

“By George! some Dutchman will kiss me next,” Lloyd thought, “and then I must either laugh out, or hit him.”

But the broth was good, and the four men continued to eat together; and one Dunker gave Lloyd some pickles, another handed him a slice of bread spread with meat and apple-butter, and a third pushed over a cup of coffee.

Quantrell adapted himself to the strange conditions easily, observing that all over the church, by fours, the men and women were eating; and he now remembered that it was at such primitive feasting when Christ had spoken to “one leaning on his bosom,” saying, “He shall betray me to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it.”

Quantrell had hardly thought of this, when a voice in broken English rang through the church:

“And after te sop, Satan entered into him. Den said Jesus, ‘Dat tou doest, do quickly!’ And Judas had te bag. He den, having received te sop, went immediately out, and it was night.”

A sudden, strange fear fell upon the young hunter.

He wondered if this did not describe himself, who carried the game-bag, and had no right part in this solemn feast before the crucifixion of his Lord!

Old legends learned in the Catholic college, old ghosts and miracles and coincidences, came back to his mind. The dim candles and lamps seemed to be the same which shone upon the Last Supper, and these long-bearded, simple men were the real disciples, and yonder women were the friends of the Madonna and her gifted boy.

“Where, then, is Christ?” Lloyd Quantrell asked himself in scarce admitted awe — “the Christ I shall betray?”

He looked up, almost expecting to see the halo-lighted face and searching eyes.

The nearest to them in beauty and pity and glory, were those of Katy Bosler, looking at him!

A hymn was now lined out, as the love-feast was done, and some one handed Lloyd a great hymn-book in the old German language. He looked at the title with astonishment, as the translation had been penciled beneath the old black German text:

The song of the solitary and abandoned Turtle-Dove.”

He wondered if he could be dreaming.

No; the words were really there, and the date and printing-place of the book:

“EPHRATA, PENNA., 1747.”

“Here, Lloyd,” the voice of Luther Bosler said again, “Katy wants you at the communion!”

He found himself sitting on the front bench among the Dunker men. A cup was in his hand filled with grape-wine, strong and sweet, and in the other hand was a cake of curious bread. On each side of him the Dunker men sat with the very expressions he had seen in old engravings of the Lord’s Supper.

“I haf desired to eat tis passover with you,” spoke the resonant voice again, “pefore I suffer. . . . Dis is my pody which is gifen for you . . . . Dis cup is te New Testament in my plood, to pe shed for you . . . . Pehold! te hand of him dat petrayeth me, is with me on dis table!”

Lloyd gazed up again. It seemed to be Katy’s illuminated eyes which had spoken.

He drank the wine, and the bread stuck in his throat.

Slowly there rose upon his mind a feeling of religious consecration.

He had been called to the Lord’s Supper like other fishermen of old, and had dared to drink the blood of the Virgin and the divine Father, whose love had overshadowed her. This day he had taken part in the crucifixion of his Lord.

He thought his mother might be here, who had so fervently believed all this mystery, and dedicated him to Heaven with her dying breath. He looked among the women to see if one like her might not be happy now, in the wondrous accident of his coming to this supper and eating with these humble Christians.

Katy was all he saw, but the Dunker bishop was reading:

“‘Lord, why can not I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake!’”

A sense of wishing to be a nobler, gentler man, followed the words, in the young man’s heart.

“Verily, verily,” continued the bishop, “the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me!”

The cock did not crow, but a loud bark disturbed the worship.

It was Bosler’s dog, Fritz, standing in the kitchen door of the church and barking for some one.

Lloyd’s foot touched something soft.

Crouched at his feet, whither Albion had stealthily insinuated himself, that dog was lying and looking into Lloyd’s face with an unsocial discontent.

The moment’s serious feelings passed from the young man’s mind.

Lloyd rose and motioned his dog to leave the church, and led the way.

The Dunkers had commenced to pray, and did not look up to see him go.

Mingling with the idle spectators in the church-yard, who had been fed like friends of the members, Lloyd fed the two dogs, and looked at his own with some dislike.

This dog was of full English pointer blood and valuable. Lloyd Quantrell’s father, in a moment of unexpected generosity at the club, had allowed five hundred dollars to an English gentleman for his dog, said English gentleman having lost to Mr. Abel Quantrell one thousand pounds in a night’s encounter at draw-poker, and therefore having no further use for the dog, which he had brought over to assist him in killing a vast vision of American game.

He had gone to the club, met Mr. Quantrell and party, liked their terrapin and wine, and, after an introduction to the pleasures of the city, relapsed to his normal love of game, and particularly of this rapid, bantering, bluffing, mettlesome American institution which had been till recently unknown east of Kentucky.

With a full knowledge of the game of poker, and but little of plover and partridge, the young man had obeyed a letter of instructions from his father — in answer to his own for a further remittance — by taking passage for Liverpool, leaving no lasting recollections of himself in Baltimore except this blooded pointer, which, in his honor, was called Albion.

Albion was trim-built like all the pointer class, and, except for his speed and activity, would have been a dandy among dogs. But his strength of loins and hips, and the powerful curve of his hind legs, and a certain blunt strength of neck as it solidly joined the more delicate head, indicated him further as a pugilist dandy, such as were not uncommon in those days, in Baltimore.

Withal, he was more alert than bold, and had his insinuating side.

Looking into his hazel, yellow eyes, soft yet with flame, as in the Kentucky beauty, their pupils almost black like deep wells in amber, one said, “What depth of sensibility!”

But closely watched, a sly, possibly sneaking management of those beautiful eyes, arrested the critical student. They did not like close watching, and would languidly close as if just dropping away to doze, but would open half-way and peep, and, if the spectator turned his head, would be found wide open, taking an inventory and laying away gossip.

Again, the high blood and careful inbreeding of Albion, though expressed in his warm head-colors and almost dainty white skin, could, in the observer’s skeptical mood, be spotted with a certain manginess.

Superficially he was a beautiful white animal, with a small, delicate, lemon-colored bar on the back, and a head where the dark-brown hanging ear, like a loop of lady’s hair, fell from reddish, deer-colored brows, whose warm tint extended around the eyes and to the top of the brain, and back a little way on the neck, opening to let a streak of white, with a diamond form between the brows, go down the profile and cover all the muzzle except the brown kid nose, so sensitive, familiar, yet precise, as if it were the organ of fastidious taste, and found sublimated odor in a lady’s palm.

But that white muzzle was spotted with a dirty gray, as if obscurer tastes in the animal had led it to eat the bird it betrayed to the gunner.

Spots less objectionable, yet spots, like freckles on a gentleman, went all over the white back and flanks, slight yet visible to examination.

His flews just overhung the mouth without dropping, as in the lips of a man with no unclean habit except a mouth full of tobacco-juice.

And as for Albion’s tail, it was like a cart-whip well flogged out, beginning as if it were meant to be grasped by a large hand, then dropping off to a mere string. It was still his courageous part, and, although his eyes looked mild and delicate, when another dog came along his tail would go out and up, like a wasp’s sting, and, if that was not alarming enough, he would stiffen his back, lift his jowls, and show his row of grinders. Yet often he would affect sleep till the dog had passed.

He spared no birds, but seldom took up a challenge even from a terrier. It was generally remarked that he had a delicate barrel of a muzzle, and an intellectual, literary contour, but often it looked hollow as an exquisite’s in consumption.

These defects in a valuable animal could have occurred to only censorious people. Almost everybody beheld the finest pointer in Maryland, soft yet with dignity, like a mistress, but a king’s one.

At this moment his raveled ear, still raw and bloody, made the dog feverish and snappish.

“I have heard,” thought Quantrell, “of the devil taking the form of a dog, and I begin to be afraid of mine.”

Jake Bosler, when the congregation was dismissed, introduced Lloyd to many of the Dunker men, all of whom seemed to be neighborly and cordial, and asked Lloyd to come to see them.

Luther had received an order to attend some Dunker conference at another church such a considerable distance off, that he requested his party to get at once into the dearborn, and Jake Bosler took Lloyd by the hand, and saying —

“Coom twict — coom, Lloyd — Bi’m-by” — Jake executed the Dunker kiss upon the blushing Baltimorean.

They drove away to the south by a cross-road, and getting on the great National road, turned off to the west and crossed the Antietam Creek at a mill-town, by a bridge of such unconsciously beautiful stone arches that it seemed never to have been made by man, but to have condensed from the limestone mists, in the forms of those old mill-wheels which stirred the sluggish current.

Between sycamores and willows the green Antietam, like a veil, went winding among the corn-clad hills, and, at a cross-lane beyond it, Luther turned up a scarcely trodden track where ledges of limestone cropped out here and there and crumbled into clover.

Passing through some corn-fields whose long barrels and plumes were stacked in rusty lines, they saw at the side of another turnpike- road in a beautiful woods of hickory, oak, and chestnut, a square, chunky brick church with a steep roof. The clean, park-like woods revealed the limestone strata in parallel lines, and separate rocks and bowlders strewn about; and here, descending, Katy spread the lunch from her basket.

Nelly Harbaugh was very attentive to Luther, and when he went into the Dunker church she begged to go with him also.

“I am afraid to let you leave me an hour,” sighed the girl; “there is such comfort, Luther, in being with you.”

Then Lloyd and Katy strolled to a neighboring burial-ground, and, sitting there in sight of the mountains, felt all the tender joys of love compressed and ardent.

He told her all about himself, his temptations and his needs, the instincts for a purer life within him and the consolation of this great round day, hastening to its eve — the first eventful one in all his life.

“Lloyd,” said Katy, “I feel all you say, too. But it is dangerous for a poor girl to trust a man like you. I haf been thinking about it, and I haf been warned.”

“Katy,” said Lloyd, “you have kept a secret from me. What evil thing did that fortune-teller say?”

“Here it is,” answered Katy, “in English. I can make poetry a little.”

“Read it, you timid little goose!”

Katy read, between shyness and a shudder, these lines:

“In this hand I see a ring:
 Thou shalt lose it, pretty thing!
 Wading for it down a brook,
 Thou shalt find it by a book.”

“What do you make of it, Katy?” Lloyd asked.

“Some one will try to deceive me.”

“I never will, my darling!”

“Do you mean to marry me, perhaps?” asked Katy, rallying all her courage to her eyes.

“Yes. I have my father’s consent to get. He is a Catholic. But I will engage myself this day to make you my wife. Give me your dear little hand!”

She placed it in his with the excitement of delight and fear. He slipped a ring upon her finger which he had worn upon his watch-stem.

“Katy,” said he, “that was my mother’s mourning and wedding ring; her father, the foremost gentleman in Maryland, left it to her by his will. Take it with this kiss, and promise to be my wife.”

“Whenefer you ask me, Lloyd,” the girl replied with eyes gemmed with bright tears. “You haf taken of Christ’s sacrament with me this day, and your heart is clean. We are near my mother’s grave, who went to Antietam church.”

He kissed her as purely as the fond young heart in passion can intend, and then, opening her basket, she brought out her accordion.

“I had nothing else I loved so much as this,” said Katy, “and I fetched it to gif you. When you play it you will, I hope, think of me; for when you are gone, I can play it no more.”

He felt the tears come to his own eyes as he touched the keys and valves, and played a little love-tune in the fields of Antietam.

“What’s that?” Quantrell asked, when he had finished.

“Some other music, somewhere,” Katy replied. “May pe it’s on te canal; for te Potomac River is pack yonder through te woods.”

“I thought I heard a drum and fife in the corn-field yonder,” Lloyd spoke.

“I thought I heard soldiers’ music too,” Katy whispered. “Te dog hears it, Lloyd.”

The big gray mastiff stood with his ears up. Albion was fairly gamboling, as if he danced to the mystic instruments.

The sound, if it were not the insects in the trees or crops, died away, and only the Dunkers were heard singing in their lowly meeting.

“Lloyd,” Katy murmured, “let us go stand at mother’s grave and say te Words.”


 

CHAPTER X.

ISAAC SMITH’S FARM.

A SMALL town of limestone, log, and painted brick houses, with a sunny square in the middle, was near the Dunker church, and as Luther and Lloyd rode the uncoupled horses into an arched spring of water which gushed from the ground close by, a person came to ask them if they could deliver a letter on one of the mountain roads.

“It’s to a Mr. Isaac Smith, who rents our farm there,” said the letter-bearer. “We want him to send our cow up here to Sharpsburg.”

“I don’t go that road,” Luther replied. “My horses will pe tired, and I shall cross te mountain at Crampton’s Gap.”

“I’ll take the letter,” Lloyd exclaimed, “for I shall leave you, Luther, at the road this side the mountain, and walk down to Harper’s Ferry. I know Isaac Smith very well.”

They crossed the Antietam by another blue-stone bridge of arches, hidden under the hills, and late in the afternoon reached a wild road which ran parallel with the Blue Ridge.

“I must save my horses, Lloyd, or I would trife you to te Ferry; put tey must plow pefore sunrise. Let me gif you a Tunker brother’s kiss pefore you go.”

Again the bearded mouth of Luther met Lloyd’s nearly hairless lips. Nelly Harbaugh said, “Lloyd, we are friends: I forgive you, and shall disappoint your fears of me.” Little Katy received the last kiss, and again the tears shone in her large eyes as Lloyd said, “I won’t go home, my darling, till I see you again.”

He stood waving his hat till the rattle of the disappearing wagon turned into that sound he had heard by the Antietam church — of a fife and a drum, in the distance, toward Crampton’s Gap.

“These mountains are haunted everywhere,” Lloyd Quantrell said, and turned down the stony road.

He had not walked far before his dog became suspicious and, growling, ran into the dogwood and alder brush. A woman on a single-footed racker came toward him, rapidly riding, and, glancing at him, reined her horse without stopping and pointed across the mountain.

“Yonder is your way to-night, Lloyd Quantrell,” she cried — “to the Catoctin Valley. This road is rough and dangerous, and spirits are abroad upon it after dark.”

“Let the spirits come, Mother Ritner! I have a dog and a gun, and have eaten the sacrament to-day.”

“You will find that to-night,” exclaimed the woman, “which will change your destiny!”

She was gone in a cloud of dust, and the sun, now sinking below the North Mountain, left a cool shadow on the Blue Ridge like billows on a sea. Lloyd walked rapidly, whistling for his dog, and when Albion reappeared the big mastiff Fritz was in his company. He stamped for Bosler’s dog to go back, but the influence of the pointer was still greatest, and both dogs bounded down the road to the south and were soon out of sight.

“Dear little Katy!” exclaimed the traveler — “to give me her accordion and forget it was so heavy! I have more money, too, than it is safe to travel with — five hundred dollars — and Harper’s Ferry has hard people in it — Poles, Dutch, Jews, Scotch, the scum of the earth!”

He reflected that this day had made him softer toward one Dutch family.

“Heigh-ho!” continued Quantrell, “we know not what a day may bring forth. I told my father, who called me a ‘rowdy’ before I left Baltimore, that I would marry any wife he would recommend. I hope he hasn’t taken me at my word, but he is quick on the trigger. Let me see!”

He looked at his watch, and remembered that a train went through Harper’s Ferry to Baltimore after midnight.

“I will stay up for that train,” said Lloyd, “and go and tell my father I am caught and engaged. He believes in love-matches, he once told me, and my mother never thought she had his real heart, though he was kind to her. No, I must not waste a single day, for, next to Katy’s affection, I want my father’s.”

The road seemed to get a peculiar, reflected light from the higher Elk Mountain as it kept well up on the lesser range, and every object dwelt in as much distinctness as the evening cow-bells made distinctest music; yet everything startled the heart a little, while keeping it in a sunset tone of ecstasy.

The log-houses grew small and seldom, and the stony farms were dry. Sometimes small pines darkened the way, and made Lloyd, as he entered their defile, keep his gun cocked.

“I can’t be far from Isaac Smith’s,” he thought. “If it’s not the next clearing, I will get rid of this accordion, for my arm is sore, carrying the rough-shaped thing.”

It was not the next clearing, nor the next, and he was resolved to hide the accordion somewhere or throw it away. Katy, he considered, would not miss it, or would take a better one for it. Darkness was settling upon the twilight, and he was thirsty for water.

The sound of a flowing stream soon tinkled in the cool evening. Lloyd knelt to drink of a blackish branch which crossed the road. As he arose, a voice, from the dusk somewhere, cried:

“Halt!”

“Isaac Smith’s house — is it far?” Lloyd cocked his gun as he spoke.

“Yar it is,” answered the voice, not very welcoming, nor yet confident.

“Thank St. Paul!” exclaimed the gunner, dropping his caution. “If you had said ‘No,’ I should have thrown poor Katy’s accordion away. Now I can leave it here.”

He stepped forward and saw a colored man standing in a kind of lane, and exclaimed:

“Ashby! who set you? free?”

“I don’t know,” answered the negro — the same who had been carried back to slavery that morning from Smoketown; “somebody did it. Them yer!” He indicated, with a shining something in his hand, a sign of habitation up the lane.

“What’s this?” Lloyd asked. “A spear? No, I see; it’s Smith’s fishing-gig. What are you doing with it, after dark? Robbing Smith?”

“No,” answered the negro, confused and uncertain. “I’se sot yer. I don’t know what fur. If you know them yer, I s’posen you kin go in.”

Lloyd’s attention was now called to the dogs reappearing and lapping of the brook. As he called them to him, Albion snarled at the negro, who awkwardly brought his singular weapon down to defend himself.

“Search on!” commanded the gunner, and Fritz led the way up the lane.

The moon and stars came out from some lowering clouds as he advanced, and showed upon a low ridge before him some scattered buildings, and he stopped upon a small bridge in the lane to listen to some human sounds he heard. The stream under his feet ran from an old log spring-house in a kind of bottom or hollow, and a torch moved under some oaks at this spring; and a torch, likewise, on the crest of the field, shone upon some forms of men around a little house. A metallic voice Lloyd was not unfamiliar with was speaking, and the stranger caught only these words:

“If it is necessary to take life in order to save your own, then make sure work of it. . . . And look to no dissolution of the Union, but simply to amendment and repeal; and our flag shall be the same that our fathers fought under in the Revolution!”

“Why, that’s dear old Smith’s voice!” exclaimed Lloyd. “Still crazy on the subject of the Revolutionary War! I’m glad he’s home.”

He continued up the rough, stony lane nearly to some low barns, and, turning in at the top, entered a little yard, in which were fruit-trees. A small log-house was built against the hill-side, with a high porch along its eaves, and, between this house and a Dutch oven, a small open space was filled with men. Advancing among these, Lloyd exclaimed, cheerfully:

“Mr. Smith — pop, I’m in luck again to find you here.”

To his astonishment, a powerful hand immediately seized his collar and held him tight.

“Bring that torch here!” spoke the firm voice of Isaac Smith.

A torch came near, and, as it flashed upon Lloyd Quantrell’s face, a person twisted his gun out of his hand and another person seized the accordion.

“Father, it’s Mr. Quantrell,” spoke up the voice of young Watson Smith.

“How did you pass the picket?” asked Oliver Smith, with a wondering face.

“Why, friends,” Lloyd said, “a black fellow at the gate found I knew you. He wasn’t as uncivil as this other nigger who has got my gun!”

Turning, Lloyd indicated a large, handsome mulatto man, who stood looking at him with an alert, undismayed eye, unlike that of any negro Lloyd had ever seen.

“Newby,” spoke Oliver Smith, “go away! Give me the gun.”

It was good advice, for the laws of hospitality could hardly keep the white Marylander in check when treated disrespectfully by a slave.

“A man prowling through the mountains with a gun, on the Sabbath-night, must give an account of himself, sir,” spoke Isaac Smith.

“Why, my dear old man, I came to bring you a letter from your landlord, who wants his cow. I think I wouldn’t have taken the trouble, but that I was going to the Ferry to get the train. — Don’t look at me so hard, men; the worst about me is — I’m hungry.”

Isaac Smith took the letter, and, with a perplexed look, remarked:

“I don’t want to treat you uncivil, sir, if you came upon an honest errand. — Stevens, you and Mr. Kagi get some of that pork for Mr. Quantrell, and take him to the spring-house and examine him.”

Greatly puzzled to know what it could all mean, Lloyd, with a slavery-bred man’s instinct for guessing wild, and being easily satisfied, considered that Smith might be a lunatic keeping a sort of mountain sanitarium for other lunatics.

The two men led him down the path to the old log dairy with its hooded roof, and, sitting there, looked at him intently and silently while he ate some lean pork and filled his flask-cup.

“We can get three drinks out of this old thing yet, if we divide fair,” cried Lloyd.

“Take it all yourself,” said the man addressed as Stevens, with a certain cool, bold self-reliance.

That will be cleared off the earth too, some day, I calkelate,” added the other man, who had been addressed as Kagi.

“You mean whisky?” laughed Quantrell, holding the glass up to the torch, which now illuminated the old spring-house till some bats or swallows there sailed out into the night; “it’s cleared off the earth every rye-harvest now, and given, like man, to the worm.”

“Cool chap!” said Stevens, looking at Kagi.

“What’s that about the worm?” asked Kagi, not informed about distilling processes.

“The worm,” replied Lloyd. “is what alcohol ascends to spirit through, and, so, another worm eats man before he can be a saint. So here’s to the worm!”

As Quantrell raised the glass and emptied it, a look of dislike, and then of pallor, came over Kagi’s face. The torch in his hand drooped nearly to the water, and oil or pitch ran out of it upon the bubbling spring.

“He is not safe,” muttered Kagi to Stevens.

“He believes, like me, in the world of spirits,” Stevens said. “Give me your glass, Quantrell! Here’s to the Worm that distills us to the stars!”

As Stevens handed the cup back, Lloyd looked at these two with an interest always inspired by self-contained men.

Both were of fine, if uncultivated, appearance. Kagi seemed to be the more intelligent of the two, Stevens the more independent. Lloyd felt that he had not made an impression upon either of them, but Stevens seemed indifferent or careless to his approaches; Kagi was almost aggressive, yet disturbed.

Kagi was large, almost portly, with black beard, weather-exposed, and long black hair. Stevens was not so tall but more symmetrical and powerful, with military shoulders, straight, clean-made hands, a head poised in conscious strength of animal life, a skin soft as a woman’s, dark-brown hair, beard over all his jaws, and hazel eyes which were both contumacious and keen.

“Did Pop Smith buy the dark fellow I passed at the gate?” Lloyd asked.

“Traded for him,” Stevens replied.

“Give ’em a little something — to boot,” put in Kagi, shaking off his heaviness.

Both men laughed.

“Well,” said Lloyd, “that was my idea of Father Smith, that he was kind to people. That’s why I can’t understand his way of treating me to-night.”

“Have you got any slaves to trade him?” asked Kagi, with interest.

“None I can control; mine won’t come into my possession for more than a year.”

“Quantrell,” said Stevens, “Mr. Smith is about moving from the farm. You got here just as everything was packed. That’s why you see so many people around; moving a neighbor, you know.”

“Why, that’s just it,” exclaimed the young stranger, throwing away all offense. “Let’s go up and make him apologize.”

“No,” said Stevens, “he’s peculiar. Go up and bid him good-night — unless he makes you stay.”

“Can’t stay,” laughed Lloyd, gayly; “I’m just in love to-day, and going to ask my governor’s consent, by to-night’s train.”

They found comparatively few persons now at the dwelling, which was a miserable home for a man with six slaves — a long hut, half buried in the hill, so that there was a mere cellar under its high, rickety porch, and a small story and loft above. A candle assisted to reveal thus much, and boxes, trunks, and cheap valises, recently packed or emptied, were seen within this cellar. Not far behind the house the small pines grew dense and black, and clouds were hurrying in the sky as the winds rose and whistled.

“Is it correct, gentlemen?” asked Isaac Smith.

“Fuddled,” said Stevens.

“Mysterious,” said Kagi.

“Who is that young person making free with my girl’s accordion?” spoke up Quantrell, hearing the instrument awkwardly played.

“That’s Captain Cook,” answered Isaac Smith. “He’s quite a cultivated person and a teacher.”


 

CHAPTER XI.

KATY’S ACCORDION.

A SMALL, stooping, light-haired lad came out with the accordion and looked at Lloyd through pale-blue eyes, which seemed to feel his accomplishments.

Lloyd took Katy’s gift and put his fingers to the keys.

A little culture, if learned in engine-houses and partisan clubs, helps many a man through life.

Something about these people seemed still suspectful and forbidding. Quantrell had tried his temperament upon them in vain, and now he had only some rude tunes to lull them with.

He began to play “Home, Sweet Home.”

After a few strains, other persons seemed to come in, as if from the barns and corn-cribs and pine thickets. At first sullen, next wondering, and soon affected tenderly, they lay in blankets upon the autumn earth, or stood around in curious groups, while he played the air that the simple and the cot-bred of the British races know everywhere.

Some of the people who ventured near were negroes, strange-looking negroes for Maryland or for the American States anywhere — so wanting in politeness or even hospitality; preoccupied, too, as if with the morrow’s house-moving occupations; but these soon felt the infection of the tender tune, and one young, handsome white boy came up and sat by Lloyd upon an old hair-trunk and listening, filled with tears at his bright eyes. Lloyd sang the words in his own melodious voice:

“An exile from home, pleasure dazzles in vain,
 Ah! give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
 The birds singing sweetly that came to my call,
 Give them back, and my peace of mind, dearer than all.”

As the song finished, a sob was heard at Quantrell’s elbow. Watson Smith came up and said to the young man sitting there:

“Ned, what ails you?”

“I’ve got people in Iowa and my own land there.”

Isabel,” was the answer, in a broken tone.

“Play something, Mr. Quantrell,” spoke Isaac Smith, “which will remind us of the Sabbath and the heavenly rest; for here we have no abiding-place.”

A camp-meeting tune, the favorite of his deceased mother, came to Quantrell’s memory and art, and in the cool mountain air these simple strains ascended:

“I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger;
        I can tarry, I can tarry but a night;
 Do not detain me, for I am going
        to where the streamlets are ever flowing;
 I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger —
        I can tarry, I can tarry but a night!

“There the sunbeams are ever shining,
        and I’m longing, I am longing for the sight;
 Within a country unknown and dreary,
        I have been wandering forlorn and weary;
 I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger —
        I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.

“Of that country to which I’m going,
        my Redeemer, my Redeemer is the Light!
 There is no sorrow nor any sighing,
        nor any sin there, nor any dying;
 I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger —
        I can tarry, I can tarry but a night!”

During this singing a torch had been procured, which showed all the faces, even to the outer parts of the humble circle. There seemed to be at least twenty men present, and not a single woman. Of Smith’s own sons there were manifestly three, resembling each other even in their differences; and two young men, addressed as Thompson, of very pleasing countenances, Lloyd found to be old Mr. Smith’s sons-in-law. One of these, of a most cordial face and manly figure, was looking at the stranger as he finished the last tune, and Quantrell spoke up:

“Now, William — I heard friend Watson say ‘Isabel’ just now. That’s your sister, I reckon?”

“You’re right, sir,” the young man exclaimed; “my sister’s married to him, and his sister Ruth’s married to my brother.”

Well, now, in honor of that union I’ll play you one more tune before I say ‘Good-night.’”

Mr. Thompson hesitated.

“Do you know ‘America’?” he asked.

“Is this it, William?”

Lloyd found in his mind the measure and the words, and other voices joined in as he proceeded, till the last stanza pealed on the mountain night in trembling tones the player never forgot:

“My country! ’tis of thee,
  Sweet land of Liberty,
      Of thee I sing;
  Land where my fathers died,
  Land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
  From every mountain-side
      Let Freedom ring!

“Let music swell the breeze,
  And ring from all the trees
      Sweet Freedom’s song!
  Let mortal tongues awake,
  Let all that breathe partake,
  Let rocks their silence break,
      The sound prolong!”

Whites sang it; blacks seemed singing, too; but it was not, to Lloyd’s idea, a tune for blacks, though they might hear it.

At the resounding end, where “God, the author of Liberty,” is appealed to, to keep us “in Freedom’s holy light,” and “protect us by his might,” Isaac Smith made all rise.

“We will pray in the spirit of that hymn,” he said, “and send each other on his way with God’s blessing!”

Lloyd looked around, and the words of the prayer impressed him less than the manner of the listeners.

Stevens and Kagi were looking at Lloyd. Cook was stooping by the accordion as if he meditated a tune after the prayer which would put Lloyd’s performances out of praise; nearly all the rest, whites and blacks, were standing or leaning with the expressions of people at a funeral where the dead was being re-hearsed by the preacher. Some had hands over their eyes; others with eyes closed seemed muttering responses; a few knelt on the ground and bowed low.

The imperfect light of torch and stars and fiery clouds showed chiefly the Mosaic old man in the midst, surrounded by his sons and sons-in-law, plainly praying, without the least excitement, in the practical tones he might have used to order his farm-work to be done. The words would have seemed full of feeling if the manner had not been so orderly and precise, and Lloyd remarked to himself:

“Pop Smith isn’t the actor he was on the mountain yesterday. What can these people be so much interested for?”

He heard himself alluded to, toward the last, as “the young friend who, taking our hearts by music to home, admonishes us of them whose hearts and homes are never recognized. Those dear tunes of home, country, and heaven must be our only drum and fife, Lord! — as here we tarry but a night.”

A sob seemed to go around somewhere in the dark, and there were sounds as of negroes in convulsive prayer. Seeking to separate these mystic noises, Quantrell felt his hand grasped by long, bony fingers, and as if still praying, Isaac Smith was talking to him:

“Go, young man! The Lord bless you for the music you have brought and the pious mother, perhaps, who taught you tunes so comforting to these poor people! Keep off the streets! Don’t expose yourself! Don’t stand on the corners, particularly! — Captain Cook, go with him past the limits.”

“I must be getting a reputation all over Maryland,” Lloyd thought, “for standing at the street corners in Baltimore. My governor lectured me about it when he sent me off gunning. Well, now I am in love I shall stop loafing.”

“Will you take the accordion along, Quantrell?” said Captain Cook, looking at it wistfully.

“I would like to leave my accordion here and my dog Fritz,” Lloyd replied, looking around upon the people, who still watched him curiously; “but, if you are going to move, they won’t be safe.”

“Oh,” said Stevens, “Mr. Smith is only going to move to his other house, across the road yonder.”

Following the gesture, Lloyd saw a light a good way off, moving at some windows.

“Is this the dog?” old Isaac Smith asked, bringing Fritz forward. To Lloyd’s admiration that sturdy mastiff made no resistance as Smith tied him fast to the railing of the little porch above.

“Copeland — Green,” Smith spoke to two of the negroes, “put food and water by Mr. Quantrell’s dog. — You will be sure to find him here, sir, when you return.”

As Fritz yielded to the gentle hand and firm control of Isaac Smith, the highly bred Albion, seeing the companion he had misled now tied fast and apparently in subjection, darted upon Fritz with treachery and fury, and seemed resolved to get an ear for an ear. He reckoned without his host, however, for Isaac Smith, kicking Albion almost without effort, caught him also by the muzzle and tail as he turned in pain, and threw him right over the railing. Half a dozen persons below kicked him along their line, and, frightened almost to death, the pointer fled down the lane.

“He’ll go along with you meekly, now, Mr. Quantrell,” Smith remarked, without apology. “You’ll never get much pleasure from him, sir. The spaniel crossed on the cruel hound, however high he is bred, does not get the stability of such useful and faithful domestic mongrels as this!”

Putting his hand upon Fritz, that big creature set his head between Isaac Smith’s knees and wagged his tail.

“Come,” said little Captain Cook to Quantrell.

“Good-night, my mountain friends!” Lloyd Quantrell cried, cheerily, at the head of the lane. “You’re rough, but ready, I know. We’ll meet, I hope, again.”

“Good-night!” rang out many voices; and still the sense of some dislike or doubt of himself seemed to linger in those sounds, and the last looks from the by-standers had something predatory in them.

He felt this so instinctively that he walked very slowly and cool-hearted down the lane, as if there might be an enemy behind him.

Near the gate stood a black man with the shining something still in his hand, and to him Cook dropped a word.

“Now, Quantrell,” said Cook, after walking some distance along the road, “you’ll find this accordion in the garret under the eaves, if they can’t find it for you. You owe to it more than you at present know. If I hadn’t my hands full now, I would learn to play it before you came back. Anyway, I know I’m a better shot than you. You’ll be proud some day that you knew me. Good-night!”

“Good-night, Cook. With that good opinion of yourself I know you’ll be heard from,” spoke Lloyd, laughing — “Come, Albion!”

The dog now truckled low to Quantrell, and almost retarded his way, so obsequious was he after his late contemptuous chastisement; but his master was depressed in spirits from some unknown reason, and the animal’s attentions did not compose the dangers of the road.

A slight sense of bodily fear which he had been ashamed to recognize in all these mountain wanderings, was over him to-night. Those strange, unclassifiable faces he had just parted from were the only ones he had been unable to reduce to fraternity; and even his music, while it touched them for its sentiments, had not softened them to himself.

He, somehow, felt that Katy’s simple instrument had been his talisman.

Had they meant to rob him? Were they following him now with that intent? Lloyd stopped to listen, and on the disturbed air came the sound of the accordion, and a womanly voice to the old tune:

“The season’s in for partridges,
  Let’s take our guns and dogs;
  It sha’n’t be said that we’re afraid
  Of quagmires or of bogs,
     When a shooting we do go, do go, do go,
     When a shooting we do go.”

“That fellow Cook’s too simple to rob anybody,” thought Lloyd. “No, they must have been honest mountaineers, too inexperienced not to stare at me. Besides, they all prayed — all but one or two. Yet old Smith was working on the Sabbath-day, spite of his religion. I reckon he’s one of those Seventh-Day Baptists I’ve heard of, farther up the Antietam, who work Sundays and worship Saturdays. That would account for his praying more devoutly yesterday than to-day. Come to think of it,” concluded Lloyd, “the Seventh-Day Baptists, Luther told me, did not believe in marriage. That may be why I saw no women on the farm. I would trust Isaac Smith anywhere. The fact is, I have seen so many queer things in the last twenty-four hours that everything looks queer to me. Two men have kissed me, and I have had my fortune told!”

As the dog came up with its insidious attentions now, the singular explicitness of Katy’s fortune, and the vagueness of his own, as told by Hannah Ritner, occurred to his mind. How could all the game on earth rise before his gun?

Not unless the wilderness was restored here.

But the prediction that Katy should lose a ring?

Whatever that meant, it had for a moment — an evil, wicked moment, which he dispelled with indignation as a wanton idea tried to enter his mind — been verified in his own experience.

Last night he had gone to bed all fluttered and fickle-hearted after holding Katy in his arms.

To-day her pure, religious nature had made him see the womanhood latent in her, and aroused a manhood higher than he thought he possessed.

“God protect her, and lay me dead ere I can do her harm!” Lloyd Quantrell fervently exclaimed, looking up at the agitated wind and rain-clouds which seemed seeking to overrun heaven.

The dog Albion barked.

It seemed to him strange that after such a passionate prayer his mind should again be suddenly possessed by worldly and selfish thoughts.

In a few minutes he suppressed them, but only to be attacked by other forebodings.

Now the recollection of Hannah Ritner’s last prediction, that by taking this very road his destiny would be altered, oppressed his nerves.

The road was growing worse and worse as it wound down the plateau through the hills.

Sometimes the Elk Ridge, almost transparent, would ride through the night like a long, cylindrical billow, and seem to be rolling toward him in phosphoric sparklings; and then he would go down into depths like midnight, where some small stream could be heard hollow and distrustful, accompanying the road in some deep wash or gulf, and in the darkness the great grape-vines seemed to exhale a chill as they struggled up to the top branches of the basswood, or rank and giant wild-cherry trees.

In other ravines the rocks fairly grew across the way, as if planted in rows, and on the summits the gentle but melancholy locust-trees shook in the wind which the angry and plunging moon seemed to blow from its lurid bag.

A pale-faced woman would peep from some occasional hut where the candle-light revealed her, and the turkeys roosting in the trees would cluck together, like people laughing in the ague’s clutch; but on the glimmering wheat-stubble at the clearings the moon lay with a circling, partial light, like an insatiate sickle, which wanted next year’s seedlings, too, before their birth, or Herod searching for the scarce-born babes.

Then mighty rocks would overhang the road, so big that they seemed masses of foliage, and for spaces the mullein-stalks stood up desolately, and no more bent to the wind than aged maidens to a smile.

At one level place a stream, winding through a kind of copse of alder and brake, came out of the thicket tunefully, and spread itself over sandy shallows, and compelled some soft grass to receive the subdued light twinkling through old sycamores which kept the clouds off with their speckled arms. Here, amid the willows, a little log school-house stood in a sort of fork of the road, and, as Lloyd rested on its sill, a screech-owl within, like the last schoolmaster, raised a dreary, quivering wail.

Repelled with superstition from the spot, Quantrell proceeded on, till at a summit there broke upon his view the lights of a town in the mountains.

Even this sense of relief was accompanied by superstition, since it seemed unnatural to find a town so high in the air as this manifestly was, and right in his road; but as he proceeded there opened between him and the lights a deep, black, glistening gulf or wilderness, which he soon recognized, by white riffles or dark rocks, and blacker heights hugging it round, to be the river Potomac.

Then he remembered that the town of Harper’s Ferry hung around the base of an inhabited height, like the mountain he was descending, and that the town or suburb on the height was called Bolivar.

Hastening down a frightfully torn road, the music of a brook at its side was soon drowned in the roaring of the river, and a canal and locks were on the river’s border, barely leaving space for Lloyd’s road to creep beneath the mighty Elk Mountain that now began to tower almost perpendicularly, and become a buttress to the Blue Ridge which, two furlongs in advance, stepped across the river, leaving a ghastly rift between.

The dog in real companionship shrank close to Quantrell now, seeing the steeps above, amid the hurrying clouds, apparently falling down to close the chasm and bury them; while the wind, caught in this funnel, went wildly to and fro, shaking the trees in the crevices of the precipice, and rattling down roots and stones, and the river raised its thousand riffling voices as if birds and wolves in flocks dreaded to pass this storm-infested gap.

“Poor Albion!” Lloyd spoke sympathetically, “no wonder the dog’s afraid! This place by moonlight is like the devil’s throne, but, with storm threatening it, is like being swallowed by a sea-serpent.”

He walked fast over the stony road till the great mountain was as directly over him — stepping from Maryland into Virginia — as if he had been between a giant’s legs. Here, lying low to the water, a covered bridge, almost concealed in the mountain shadows, received at once the road and a railroad, which, meeting each other beneath the toppling mountain thirteen hundred feet above them, ran into the bridge and shivered there side by side.

A lock-house was near the bridge and a bargeman’s tavern, and, across the wide flood, a thousand feet away, the railroad lights of red, and household candles of Harper’s Ferry, shone and reflected in the water like jewels in an elephant’s foot, whose great head and back supported the higher town.

Quantrell entered the solemn bridge, and the river beneath him seemed to sigh like the hurrying souls of all the Indian tribes drowned here, even in the whoop of war and chase.

He emerged at a place where the bridge had two outlets, like the letter Y, a railroad-track in each, and that to the left ended near another bridge which spanned a different river, not visible before, beneath the long Virginia mountain and the town. This river, the Shenandoah, was almost as fierce and wide as the Potomac, which it assisted to break through the mountain gate.

Lloyd took the other bridge outlet and came into the little inhabited strand or sill of Harper’s Ferry, which lined two streets, one along either river-bank. The bridge was the key to the town, like a key to a trunk.

In the eye of the bridge and close by it was the gate of some stately institution, all noble with lines of lamps and walks and regular buildings, and between it and the bridge a hotel clung to the narrow railroad passage. Opposite this hotel was a detached part of the beautiful institution beyond, with similar walls of stone and fence panels of musket-barrels or spears.

It did not need a Marylander to tell that this was the great war-factory of the American Republic, where the muskets and rifles which equipped its little army had been made since the rule of President Washington.

The stately institution beneath the Potomac heights was the national armory; the detached buildings on the Shenandoah side were the arsenal; the two rivers meeting at the spot furnished unceasing water-power.

Leaving his gun and trappings at the hotel, Lloyd was directed to a saloon where a stealthy bar was open Sundays. It was a little place by the Shenandoah side, and, when he entered, it was quite full of men, some drinking, some drunk.

“Here’s one of tem tam apolitionists, py Jing!” cried a voice, and a man came up to Lloyd sneeringly.

“You here, Andrew Atzerodt!” exclaimed Quantrell. “Spending your blood-money, I reckon.”

“Tidn’t I capture tat nigger, Lloyd?” the tipsy fellow inquired. “Tey want to take teir money back, pecause tey let him git away.”

“You here, Logan?” Lloyd spoke up, seeing the two slave-hunters, also sullen with disappointment and drink. “Then your prey escaped you!”

“Why not,” answered the man, “when this Dutch braggart stopped everybody in the road to proclaim he had tuk a nigger? We was waylaid and beat.”

“Not me, py Jing!” shouted Atzerodt.

“No,” said a Logan, “you took to your heels. We was licked, but we fought fur our nigger.”

“Who did it?” asked Quantrell.

“That’s what we’d give five hundred dollars to know.”

“If I knew I wouldn’t tell you,” Lloyd replied. “Such fellows as you, without any interest in slavery, do its dirty work.”

“Go fur him, poys!” screamed Atzerodt, getting behind the Logans. “He’s a spy and a nigger-lover.”

The larger Logan came up to Lloyd, while everybody stopped drinking at the bar and crowded around, hopeful of some “difficulty.” His brother slipped around to Quantrell’s side with a treacherous face.

“I think you’re the man who wanted to take that slave, Ashby, from us at Smoketown,” said Logan. “You wanted to fight me there. Take that!”

“Take that!” exclaimed the brother.

Both struck Quantrell in the head with their hard fists.

“Take this!” answered Lloyd, staggering but not falling, and without raising his voice, while he planted a blow in the face of each mountaineer, and followed them up with the rapidity of a pugilist, his countenance more smiling than angry, and his strength prodigious.

“Take this home to the children,” Lloyd said as he struck again. “Take it carefully! Don’t drop it and break it!”

The meaner Logan was down in a minute, crying anxiously, “Lew, he’s armed!” The larger Logan fought well and tried to get in close and wrestle with Quantrell, whose skill kept him off and punished him terribly. In a few seconds he, too, was down and crying “Enough!”

The landlord had meantime drawn a long revolver pistol from the bar, but was too much interested in the fight to point it, and, before he could determine what to do, Quantrell twisted it out of his hand.

“Gentlemen,” said the man, “my license will be taken away unless you all hurry out.”

“Go out!” spoke Lloyd, indicating the Logans, the pistol in his hand. “Put that bridge between you and Harper’s Ferry! This gun may kill better men.”

As they slipped out gratefully, Quantrell turned to the landlord and spoke:

“Whoever is not ashamed to drink with a true American, is my guest!”

Silently, admiringly, everybody in sight came to the bar. As they waited for the champion to set the health, he deliberately raised his arms and shook them, wing-fashion, and crowed like a cock.

“Cock-Robin cock of the walk to-night!” exclaimed Quantrell merrily, emptying his glass.

They drank with even more quiet awe, for they recognized in “Cock-Robin” one of the dreaded Baltimore anti-foreign clubs.

When all had finished drinking, Andrew Atzerodt crawled out from behind a barrel and executed a crow with all Lloyd’s nonchalance.

“Where’s my drink, Lloyd?” he spoke, loudly; “tidn’t we tackle ’em, py Jing!”

In the midst of the roar of laughter a stranger drew Lloyd away, saying:

“Come, sir, this place is beneath a man of your courage.”

Handing the pistol back to the owner, Lloyd walked with the stranger to the hotel, and, giving him a cigar, drew chairs upon the railroad platform which extended on high trestles between the Potomac and the armory-yard. The tall brick edifices, plots of grass, high flag-staff, and chimneys, reposed among the lights beneath the profile of the upper town, where a great rock, like an anvil, overhung the Shenandoah, and the fiery-edged clouds seemed like red-hot horseshoes shifted upon it by the blacksmith of the Night.

“That is Jefferson’s Rock, sir,” said the stranger, in reserved tones; “I suppose you know it.”

“No, my friend.”

“Mr. Jefferson wrote his ‘Notes on Virginia’ sitting up there. My deceased father, who was a strong State-rights man, had a tradition that some day a child would come and push that rock over. It is nearly balanced, you see, by its own weight. Then, my father said, the State-rights of Jefferson would be no more.”

“Your county here is called Jefferson, I think?”

“Yes. At the county-seat, a few miles south of this place. General Washington’s brother Charles settled, and his descendant is my neighbor.”

“Your name, my friend?”

“Beall — John Beall.”

“Why, John, that’s an old Maryland name around Washington city.”

“Yes, sir,” the young man, who was near Quantrell’s own age, answered, with a subdued voice, like one naturally reticent; “I am of the McGruders and Bealls, Rob Roy’s own blood.”

Lloyd Quantrell put his hand on John Beall’s shoulder affectionately, and could almost feel the young man’s reserved countenance smile as Lloyd hummed the tune:

“‘But doomed and devoted by vassal and lord,
   McGregor has still both his heart and his sword:
   Then courage, courage, courage, Grigalach!

“‘Our signal for fight, which from monarchs we drew,
   Must be heard but by night in our vengeful halloo:
   Then halloo, halloo, halloo, Grigalach!’”

“You sing as well as you fight, sir. You must be a gentleman.”

“Ah,” said Quantrell, “that’s the highest degree in Masonry. I’m afraid not. Lloyd Quantrell is my name, however.”

“I’ll take you for a gentleman, Mr. Quantrell. My grandfather was an Englishman; he lived most of his life in Virginia. He never would be naturalized here, though he was a Federalist and disliked Mr. Jefferson. I went to England with him to see him die there in his old Norman homestead. He said to me in his last illness, ‘The man who can fight without hate and sing without invitation is a citizen anywhere.’”

“Well, John, I’ll answer to being a citizen, then. With you, I’ll be a Virginian. We can squeeze a small drink out of my flask.”

“Thank you,” Beall answered, accepting the Marylander’s hand, “but I seldom drink. I went through the form at the saloon in compliment to your prowess. The fact is, I’m a communicant in our Episcopal Church. A large family — my widowed mother’s — depend on me. I came here to-night for a poor neighbor who expected to recover her slave. She is a preacher’s widow, and had an old negro man. His son, to satisfy the old man’s wife, who lived North, came down and stole the father. The son himself made his escape not long ago.”

“John,” said Quantrell, “the old man has got his freedom. He is dead.”

“I’m not surprised to hear it,” said Beall, unmoved. “He was too old to run away. But I considered it my religious duty to unite with others in offering a reward for his son Ashby, whose bold deed in coming into a slave State to make a capture shows a frightful demoralization in negroes.”

“What is he worth, John?”

“Probably not as much as the reward, since the extension of slavery has been defeated in Kansas. What an outrage on State-rights was that!”

With a warm invitation to come to his farm, Mr. Beall mounted his horse in the street below, and turned him up the hill through the middle of the town.

“A little inflexible,” Quantrell reflected, “but a true-hearted Virginian all the same.”

He took a room in the hotel, where only a very tall and very black negro, probably six and a half feet high, seemed to be awake. The railroad agent, also a powerful man, was continually bantering this negro, who seemed fully as independent.

“Ain’t yo’ nigger, noway,” exclaimed this black giant, while looking for Lloyd’s key. “Jess call myseff yo’ nigger fo’ convenience. Want a better-lookin’ man than yo’ to be my mossta!”

“So ho, now! so ho!” exclaimed the big white man, sleepily holding up his red lamp. “Ain’t you ’shamed, Heywood? I’m ’shamed faw you. Anybody can see you’re no Vurgeenian by your manners. Talkin’ that a-way to a man o’ my age!”

“Dat’s what’s de fack,” said Heywood; “yo’s too ole to be my mossta. Yo’s a ole widower. Don’t you ‘so ho’ me. I’m a free man, I am! Don’t go nowhar for nobody if dey don’t treat me right.”

“I’m sorry faw you, Heywood. I hope your wife and childern won’t hear how you talk to me. You may be a widowaw, too, Heywood.”

As the big man walked up the platform as mechanically as he had been quarreling, swinging the red lamp, the gigantic negro, paying no attention to Lloyd, seized a cloak and darted after him.

“Yer, squire, yo’ ole dunce! Moss Beckham, you put on dis yer cloak. Do you hyar? Dat cole wind’ll fall on to yo’ kidneys. Den yo’ll be ’busin’ of me mo’.”

“I won’t have it, Heywood,” Lloyd heard the squire say; “nobody can pet me aftaw spilin’ of my feelin’s. So ho, now! go ho, Heywood!”

“Dar!” exclaimed the negro, “wrap it round yo’ now and go to bed. Gi’ me de lamp. You sha’n’t stay up no mo’ dis night.”

Coming back with the lamp, the negro selected a key and took Lloyd to an upper room overlooking the town, promising to call him for the Baltimore train.

“Does the squire own you, Heywood?” asked Lloyd.

“No. De prejudice ag’inst free colored men is so big heah, dat I’s a kine of ward to him, to keep my property at Winchester. He’s de bes’ friend I got. Ef I didn’t sass him a little, reckon he wouldn’t like me!”

“Here,” said Lloyd, giving the negro a silver piece, “try, the next time he tempts you, to answer the squire kindly. We can’t tell what word will be our last, Heywood, with them we love.”

“Thank you, mossta. Reckon I will treat de squire better. Why, he’d die fur me!”

As the sound of the negro’s feet ceased in the bare halls and stairs, Lloyd drew off his boots and sat at the window, tired and bruised, looking sleepily out upon the great Loudoun Heights and the dark, riffle-fleeced Shenandoah, and the mill-races on both river-banks carrying strong water-power to State and private machinery. The sky was cloudy and windy, and brazen lights contended there with inky scud. The watchman at the granite gate-post below locked up the armory-yard, and Harper’s Ferry expressed no sound but the hurrying, moaning rivers.

“Nothing has happened to-night to change my destiny,” Lloyd remarked, nodding. “I got away with the two Logan brutes easily. I shall see my father at breakfast, and tell him, boldly, I am in love. Will he oppose me? No. I am my mother’s bequest to him; and he does not despise beauty and virtue because they are poor.”

A low whine rang through the room.

“Lie down, Albion!” Lloyd exclaimed. “I shall give you to little Katy of Catoctin. God bless her!”

He fell asleep, the high-bred pointer at his feet. His mother came to him there in dreams, and seemed to say:

“Tired boy, sleep, for you have a long walk before you, and no shoes.”

He did not know how long he had been sleeping when a shock, as if the Loudoun Heights had fallen, awoke him. A splitting, resounding, appalling noise thundered through the black village.

“Has a powder-magazine exploded?” asked Lloyd, gazing out and rubbing his eyes. “I couldn’t have dreamed anything as real and loud as that! No, I see what it is now by yonder dim moon-rime reflected from the Virginia mountain — a part of Jefferson’s Rock has fallen. Some infant must have been born here to-night and pushed it over.”


 

CHAPTER XII.

JAYHAWKERS.

HIS watch showed that it was about eleven o’clock.

From the street below came up a sound of loose, creaking wheels and some footsteps, and the word:

“Halt!”

Lloyd Quantrell looked down from his window in the close yet damp night, and his sight slowly separated the objects in the little piece of street which has already been called the key of Harper’s Ferry, and which led from the bridge to the armory-gate in a nearly straight line.

The saloon where Quantrell had been attacked, a little building of wood, confronted this street near the bridge, and was probably four hundred feet from the government gate. Between saloon and gate some small private offices and shops clung along the arsenal’s wall, and the railroad tavern was a basement story lower on the street than upon the railroad.

Another street, at right angles, ran along the armory gate and yard, at the corner of which yard it sent off an oblique street, and a short block farther on, a steep street, both nearly parallel to the Potomac; while the first street, called Shenandoah, kept along between the houses and cliffs till, at a far distance, it ended at another armory, indistinctly seen by Lloyd, and called the Rifle-works.

Thus an armory closed up the town by either river, except for the passage of the two railways, and only the second or steep street led over the rough hill of Bolivar into the great upland Valley of Virginia.

Before the armory gate some things were moving and shining like steel, and suppressed voices spoke sententiously there:

“Open this gate!”

“Who is it?”

“Open this gate!”

“Where is the key?”

“You are a dead man!”

“Oh-h — mercy!”

“Make any noise, and you are a dead man!”

With this strange colloquy there seemed to be a jumping up on the wall, and a jumping down and a scuffle. Then came the words:

“That key, or you are—”

“Oh, don’t! I’m the pore watchman!”

“Never mind him,” spoke another voice, firm and cool. “Bring the crow-bar and the big hammer!”

A rattling, twisting, snapping sound followed, and the word —

“March!”

The wagon creaked again, the shining things in the streets moved within the gate, and the foliage of shade-trees and the shadows of the armory buildings swallowed up the episode.

“What brutes these semi-military officials are!” Quantrell reflected. “Drunken superintendents and privileged political clerks, no doubt, who have lost their keys, and will conclude a Sunday’s excursion by sleeping in ‘Uncle Sam’s’ offices. But who could expect anything better with Wise Governor of Virginia, and his Dutch and Irish on top of true Americans?”

He had nearly fallen to sleep again when there came a sober sound from the open gate below.

“All’s well!”

A voice replied, like a negro’s:

“All’s well!”

“I’m glad of that,” muttered Quantrell, “for I thought everything was sick. Why, they’re coming away quick! Found the demijohn empty, I reckon!”

He was now able to perceive a small wagon drawn by one horse, and it seemed to be nearly full of men, though others walked by its side. They passed up Shenandoah Street, and seemed to divide at the second corner; and, at the gate below, there remained two other men standing still, with something shining in their hands.

“Close the gate,” said a voice within, “and halt everybody now!”

“Having had the horse stolen,” Quantrell mused, sleepily, “of course they lock the stable-door now. I think everybody hates the government.”

He noted the sharp, black rim of Loudoun Heights again, like a ragged shell inclosing the oyster of the town, and the sighing, whispering rivers. As he dozed, voices in the still street seemed to say:

“Who goes there?”

“Prisoner! From the bridge.”

“Who goes there?”

“Prisoner! From the rifle-works.”

“All’s well!”

“All’s well!”

“Now,” considered Quantrell, “these official parasites are concluding their spree by arresting all the sober men on duty! When I get to Baltimore I’ll just describe in the ‘Clipper’ what sort of rule Buchanan and Floyd and Wise have clapped on Old Virginia, the mother of our Presidents. Meanwhile, I’ll lie on the bed and not be disturbed.”

He slept longer this time, and was awakened by a wheezing, grinding noise which made him leap to his feet and seize his gun and hunter’s outfit and dash down the stairs. An engine and passenger train, pointed for Baltimore, stood at the station adjoining the tavern.

“You scoundrel!” Lloyd exclaimed to the negro porter, “why didn’t you call me?”

“Couldn’t hyar from de train,” answered the negro; “telegraph wires all down somehow. Whar’s dat ar’ bridge watchman?”

“Where is anybody, responsible?” Lloyd exclaimed. “Everything seems left to one impudent nigger.”

“Don’ yo’ say I ain’t ’sponsible, now!” the porter vociferated, shaking his lamp. “I know my business! Squire Beckham, come out hyar! Nobody can’t be foun’, and I’m blamed by everybody.”

The negro continued toward the bridge, and Lloyd threw his dog into the smoking-caboose and climbed upon the train, which in a moment proceeded along the river-side, and the engine entered the bridge. He was settling down for a doze, when he heard clear voices in the hollow cavity of this long viaduct:

“Halt there, or you are a dead man!”

The engine had suddenly stopped, and continued to snore and tremble as if it dreamed all this indignity to the United States mail.

“What do you want?”

“Liberty. And we mean to have it!”

“What kind of liberty do you mean?”

“Like yours and mine. Go back!”

The train started back with a jerk, as if the lever had been pulled in panic. In a moment two or three persons came excitedly through the smoking-car, from the engine, running and ejaculating.

“What’s ahead there?” Lloyd cried.

“Robbers, or lunatics, or Indians. Things with guns anyhow!” one of the railroad men replied, hastening on.

Qnantrell jumped into the aisle and ran to the front platform near the engine and looked ahead.

Three men, as they seemed to be, lined a railing in the bridge. Bright metal shone in their hands. The light was afforded by a lantern in the hands of a big colored man who had advanced beyond the engine and seemed more courageous or less impressionable than the whites.

“Halt! halt! halt!”

In rapid succession and with high nervous meaning had come these words from the obstruction ahead.

“Who’s you?” hoarsely replied the great negro Heywood, slightly moving back. “Who you a-haltin’? Free man, I am!”

“Halt! halt!”

“Sha’n’t halt for no such damned rascals. Free man—”

“Boom!”

A loud report rang through the bridge, which made Lloyd turn and look at his own gun, to see if it had not been accidentally discharged.

Before he could look from the platform to the track again, a human cry, so piteous, so long, so profound, came from close beside him, that it rang in his ears for years after this night.

It was the cry extorted by a mortal wound in the first violent incursion into the house of life.

The negro, still clinging to his lamp, was running over the bridge-ties in such terror as to put his late defiance and tardy retirement to the blush. The train was also backing rapidly. As soon as the starlight came down upon the platform again, Quantrell leaped off.

“What is it, Heywood?” he called to the negro, whose face expressed in outlines and dim eyeballs an agony insupportable.

“Death!” answered the negro, staggering on.

“There — there’s the man who shot him!” exclaimed the conductor of the train, indicating an agile figure which, between a walk and a slide, came out of the bridge and seemed to have some short weapon in the blanket he was wrapped in. As this figure went rapidly toward the armory-gate, Lloyd Quantrell raised his gun and fired upon it, yet with the want of aim which comes from an uncertain conviction. His mind was dazed, too, by a suspicion that he had seen that youthful figure before.

The moment Lloyd fired, two shots from the armory-gate replied to his own, and one of them cut a strand from his hair.

“At last!” Quantrell spoke, coolly, “I have seen something that came very near changing my destiny — for life!”

He put the railroad building and hotel between him and the armory. The passengers were now generally alarmed, and were peeping around the corner of the thin rim of buildings between the railroad platform and the armory-yard. A water-tank for the locomotives was at this corner, and some of the hotel people or passengers were exchanging shots from this cover with a group of people who stood in the armory-yard around a small low building near the gate. These people, whatever they might be, were distinctly heard loading their guns.

“Come away from that corner and tank!” Lloyd exclaimed. “Those robbers are firing rifle-balls that will go through these thin boards.”

“You think they are robbers?” asked a very straight, clean-ribbed man with a thoughtful but not at all excited countenance, turning on Lloyd.

“Of course. Foreigners, I reckon, come to take the rest of our liberties. They can’t be Indians, so they must be robbers!”

“O papa! robbers? Isn’t it romantic! Such mountains, too! Such nature! Oh, let us stay here all night and see what they are.”

A large, enthusiastic, handsome girl was sitting at the open window of a passenger-coach. She looked at Lloyd with a beaming countenance and a certain fine energy of impulse.

“Surely there is a hotel here, sir,” she addressed Lloyd. “Can we not witness this unexpected tournament? Oh, it is so advantageous to be a man and see everything romantic!”

“Here is one poor man, dear miss, who will hardly agree with you,” Quantrell replied. “Hear the railroad porter’s dying groans!”

They listened, and sighs like a sick child’s came from the little station, and the words:

“O Heywood! what will yo’ wife say? A exposin’ of yourself, Heywood, when I should have been the man! It ’twan’t kyind of you, Heywood! It ’twan’t thoughtful! What kin I do without you?”

“Po’ friend,” the negro said, “look aftaw my chillen. Forgive me for my sassy tongue. It’s got me in this trouble, mossta. Oh! kill me — I’m dyin’ and I can’t die!”

“There, Light!” exclaimed the lithe, quiet man, looking at the girl. “You hear the real tones of romance; the poor, sick notes of glory. It is the poor, helpless people, the women and the servants, who suffer for romantic ventures.”

“Oh, that is dreadful!” said Miss Light; “I supposed they died fighting gloriously. But, senator — papa — may they not be Indians? We have seen the Indians in their beautiful eagles’ feathers prepare for war. I suppose these robbers, as this gentleman says, must be foreigners — Italians, or Spaniards, or Garibaldians — in beautiful costumes!”

“Here is one, perhaps,” replied the senator; “look at him, Light!”

A young man with a short gun in his hand, a rough, slouching hat on his head, coarse clothes, and a belt around him with weapons in it, appeared at the head of the train and called out, in a somewhat nasal tone:

“Conductor, bring on that train! Our commander has allowed you to cross the bridge and proceed.”

“That a robber?” Miss Light remarked; “why, he’s a mere boy. He must be fooling you.”

“That’s one of ’em,” spoke the conductor; “I know that’s one.”

“Give me your gun!” exclaimed the aged railroad agent, running out and reaching for Lloyd’s fowling-piece; “if that’s one of those scoundrels, I want his life. He’s killed my pore, faithful servant!”

The young man, who was not fully revealed in the imperfect light of the train’s windows, half raised his piece and said negligently but frankly:

“Citizens are not allowed to carry guns! We are in possession of this town, and mean no harm to peaceable people. Put that gun down!”

Lloyd got on the train, out of the way.

“My friend,” he said to the excited railroad agent, “I have shot my last load off. We must wait for daylight.”

“Who are you?” cried the conductor again; “we can’t understand you. What is your purpose in this town?”

“We want Liberty,” spoke the young man, “and we intend to have it!”

“Oh, beautiful!” exclaimed the senator’s daughter at the window. “So bold, and such a boy! If he only had some beautiful clothes!”

“He’d look well in a good long shroud!” Lloyd Quantrell exclaimed, grinding his teeth.

“I won’t move my train,” called the conductor; “one of the railroad’s servants has been shot on that bridge. I am responsible for the lives of these passengers, and I am afraid to cross the bridge before daylight.”

The young man retired into the shadows of night like an apparition.

The pointer-dog followed and indicated him with its instinct for an object doomed.

“Will you oblige me with your father’s name?” Lloyd asked the communicative young lady.

“Oh! with pleasure. Mr. Edgar Pittson. We are just going to the capital for the first time. My father is a new senator from the West. I have never seen the East. If it continues as sublime and romantic as this, will it not be delightful? Such mountains! Such adventures! Are they always occurring like this, sir?”

“Ever since I have been in these mountains,” replied Lloyd, between excitement and amusement, “something wonderful has been taking place. Perhaps they wanted to surprise us,” concluded Lloyd.

The people on the train and the platform were all this while in the greatest agitation and wonder, while the town of Harper’s Ferry was in absolute sleep. A doctor, whose office was at the station, alone had been aroused by the shooting, and he reported that the negro was dying. The ball, entering his back, had passed entirely through the body near the heart.

“Gentlemen,” whispered the doctor to Senator Pittson and Quantrell, “what can this midnight rebellion be? We who live here fear it is a bold and strong attempt to rob the armory of the treasure-chest. Mechanics of all countries live here, and some of them may be very desperate characters.”

“Beautiful!” exclaimed Miss Light Pittson, overhearing the doctor; “what contrasts and heroes exist in the East! Washington city must be full of such revolutions. How else could it be our capital?”

“Young gentleman,” said the senator to Lloyd, “I have been wondering if this émeute to-night can have anything to do with the Kansas troubles. I hope not, because the unjustifiable attempts to subjugate Kansas and give it to the slave system have entirely failed. She is on the threshold of the Union as a free State, and I hope one of my first duties at Washington will be to vote for her admission. It is for this reason that I would deprecate any such invasion of Virginia as some of our free-State bands have retaliated upon Missouri.”

He conversed as quietly on this dread subject as if he had been in his Western settlement.

Lloyd wondered, and remarked:

“Have you seen anything to lead to that idea, sir? I am ignorant of the Kansas troubles. The slavery question is a bore to me. I am enlisted in the Native American question.”

“I looked at that young man’s gun just now. I think it is a Sharp’s rifle, a new Philadelphia carbine, loading at the breech. A quantity of those rifles disappeared some time ago from one of our Western States and have not been found. The persons responsible for them fear some of the jayhawkers have got them.”

“Jayhawkers? Are they something like our ‘Blue Jays’ in Baltimore?”

“Yes,” said the senator, smiling; “they were free-State young men who got a taste of war and blood when the armed ruffians from Missouri and the South invaded Kansas, and they could not be composed to peace after the moral victory was won. They went hunting for an enemy. They felt that they had beaten both slavery and the United States Government which tried to foster it in Kansas. Some of them invaded Missouri and took slaves out and carried them to Canada.”

“Who did that, Senator Pittson?” asked Lloyd, with a flushed face.

“I forget whether it was Montgomery or Brown. I rather think it was Brown. He had lost a son or two when the Missourians invaded Kansas. He won quite a battle out there at Ossawattomie. It seemed to bring out a latent pugnacity in him, entirely foreign to his long and steady life. Perhaps it unsettled a somewhat intense brain. Oh, my young friend! war is very close to human society everywhere. It is like the rats in the sewers of towns; whole armies of them are hidden under the gentlest homesteads. It is most unwise for our more warlike Southern countrymen to bring the argument of force into the comparatively tranquil North; for the war-rat is under every human skin, and at a pin’s prick it may come forth in eruption.”

They were walking up the platform as they spoke, and stopped to see the silent audacity of these unknown strangers, who guarded the two bridges, sentineled the street-corners, communicated with each other patrol-fashion, still held the armory gate and yard and the arsenal, and all this while the town of which they were masters slept, with its nearly five thousand people, in the funnel of the black mountains, like dumb animals in a stall.

“This is indeed wonderful,” remarked the senator. “My daughter, you perceive, has read romantic novels; but what is taking place here is a little more curious than any such reading of mine. These strangers can not be a foreign enemy. Virginia can hardly have seized the General Government’s armory. Mere thieves would not take such chances, for, when the brawny armorers in that town awaken, Death will keep a holiday here! Do you know what I think I shall do?”

Lloyd looked at him a moment by the variable lights of the environment, and saw something in the senator’s long, fine, quiet face, which, in sympathy with Lloyd’s own temperament, educed the reply:

“Yes, senator! You think you will go down to that gate with your life in your hand and ask the miscreants there for an explanation.”

The young senator — he seemed hardly forty — looked also at Lloyd with mild-eyed penetration.

“How did you guess that?” he said. “But you were right. I am a fresh senator, without record or much ambition. I might save life by interposing here, while night and sleep keep this thing yet a nightmare dream. I can say, at least, I am a senator of the United States—”

A loud, long, heart-searching wail came from the dying negro’s agony.

“Sir, you shall not go to that gate!” spoke Quantrell. “Because you are a senator you shall not go. Because, also, you are a father! I will go myself. A prophecy is already on my head — that I shall see that to-night which will change my destiny.”

“Magnificent!” exclaimed a voice at his elbow. “O papa, I could not stay and hear that poor man. So I have been fortunate to hear this gentleman’s gallant offering. Isn’t he a hero?”

“I fear, Light, he has been reading Monsieur Dumas and Mr. Ainsworth, like you, when he speaks of a prophecy and his destiny.”

“I felt there was something like myself in him — like you, too, papa — when I spoke to him so unconventionally. Something quiet and unflinching. Something like Robin Hood and Fra Diavolo. Who does he resemble that we know? Of course he shall go and demand of the robbers, ‘What ho!’”

Both Quantrell and the senator had to laugh heartily at the unaffected enthusiasm of this large, somewhat masculine-statured Western girl, who might have been eighteen, but was cast in that mold between the handsome and the noble that is commonly called “fine-looking.”

“Miss Light,” Lloyd said, joyously, “don’t try to make an impression on me! You might succeed, and that would be wrong; for I have only this day engaged myself to the prettiest maid in these mountains.”

“Splendid! Romantic! A hunter, a hero, a lover, everything noble in one! — Oh, he must go and challenge these robbers, papa!”

As they walked along, talking and speculating, and waiting for an opportunity, or for some decision, on the subject of these marauders, the sky gradually became overspread with clouds and it grew cold and chilling. The robbers within the gates had built a fire in the small square building there, and could be seen stooping before it, or counseling together.

“Are you an abolitionist?” Lloyd asked Senator Pittson.

“No, no; I am a Republican.”

“A Black Republican?” asked Quantrell, suspiciously.

“That’s a mere nickname. The few abolitionists also call us names, because we will not assault slavery in the old States, or break up the Union, so dear, I hope, to everybody. The Republicans merely reassert the doctrine of nature and of the founders of the republic, that slavery is a colonial thing, not in the blood and circulation of our system, and therefore not to be allowed in the external, new domain of the country. It has taken the noble empire of Texas, by colonizing there, and using American patriotic ambition to acquiesce in the evil. It shall not so colonize and pervert the noble empire of the Missouri. With pity for our countrymen tied up in old slavery, we shall not pity ourselves if we give it our Northern heritage.”

“It seems to me, sir,” Quantrell dubiously remarked, “that if slavery is so bad a thing, it is in danger from your people everywhere. Do you think a Northern man is as brave as a Southern one?”

“Not as fierce, but I think as brave. Not as decided, but I think more persevering. They are not as conscious of their principles as your friends are, because theirs are older and apparently forgotten, while the tremors of slavery have raised new and glittering doctrines which must perish if liberty is to live. When the great power of Britain was exerted to suppress the young American Republic, the only people they never overran were New England and the Alleghany mountaineers. King’s Mountain echoed to Bunker Hill. Since that day, has come the West, the new power on this planet, I believe!”

They went in silence to watch the mysterious people again, and Light Pittson cried:

“Why, look! Papa, they are carrying spears. See how they flash against that firelight! This is glorious! — When are you going to challenge them, sir?”

“This is a good time,” Quantrell replied; “I see the gate has been opened to admit wagons and horses. Please keep my gun and dog, Senator Pittson!”

People crowded around to see what Quantrell, who had become a man of leadership in the eyes of the passengers, meant now to do.

“I don’t like to see you go down there alone,” the senator said. “It appears too much like going vicariously for me, who suggested it.”

“Let me tie this ribbon to your jacket, sir,” Miss Light exclaimed. “I took it from my neck. Some lady always crowned the brave knight.”

She tied the blue ribbon upon him in real admiration.


 

CHAPTER XIII.

LLOYD’S DESTINY CHANGED.

THE armory-gate was open wide, and a carriage drawn by two horses had already passed in, and four horses, pulling a large farmwagon, had stopped in the gateway.

“Jump out, you colored men, and take a spear apiece. We’re short of hands for a spell yet, and want you to do guard duty. Be lively!”

Certain negro men, impelled by others who carried guns, dropped clumsily out of the wagon and almost immediately were seen carrying sharp things on poles. The same nasal, military voice continued:

“Get out here, colonel! — You, too, old man! Fetch in your son! All report yonder, to the commander!”

Lloyd looked at the man, endeavoring in the moving crowd to distinguish him, but, before he could be satisfied, the same voice exclaimed at Quantrell’s ear:

“What! You captured, too, minstrel?”

The young hunter turned, and, recognizing the face, he spoke in astonishment:

“Stevens?”

“Anything you like. Come right to me! Don’t you put down your hands, or I’ll tickle your heart!”

Stevens — the same he had drunk with at the spring-house, it seemed — thrust a pistol at Lloyd Quantrell’s body. There was no doubt about his earnestness, and Quantrell walked at once to the pistol’s muzzle, saying there:

“Then you’re one of these robbers?”

“Anything you like. You’re my prisoner. Go ’lang there, now!”

He pointed to some low buildings, and the gates behind him closed with a jangling sound. In the same direction had gone the other persons; and Lloyd, getting the instinct of obedience from his finely strung automatic captor, walked promptly up to the front of the nearest building.

It had three doors, and the farther door opened into a separate and smaller apartment, which contained only a bench and a stove, and some persons huddllng by the fire.

The larger room was nearly square, and contained two engines to suppress fires — low engines on wheels, with hand levers at the sides to be worked by double rows of men — and leather hose and a hose-cart; and also axes and other appurtenances of a fire company hung up under the open-beamed roof. The floor and walls were of brick, and were littered with arms, fagots, tools, and blankets, hastily distributed there.

Quantrell walked uninvited into the engine-house amid blacks and whites, all armed and standing listlessly or nervously about, and he picked up the fireman’s horn:

“Put her right in now!” shouted Lloyd; “run her for all she’s worth! Liberty’s the bird!”

“That’s the case to-night,” grimly spoke Stevens, “but you’ll cut no more loud capers like that, friend Quantrell! This engine-room is for the troops, white and black; you must go into the watchman’s part with the prisoners.”

Two fagots were burning in black men’s hands in the engine-house.

“Hold on!” Lloyd exclaimed; “what are these things?”

The negro he seized the fagot from gave it up with mouth ajar, and in the other hand held awkwardly a spear — the very fisherman’s gig, as the burning fagot showed, that Quantrell had twice seen in the Maryland mountains.

“Ashby,” he said, looking up at the negro’s face, “you here, and a robber?”

“I spec so,” the negro hoarsely urged; “dey say I’m one of ’em. I don’t know.”

The fagot was seen to be splints of hard and soft wood bound together; the fisherman’s gig was the pattern of many spears seen in black men’s hands or leaning against the wall of the engine-house — bright, glittering spears, too small, sharp, and narrow for display.

“Stevens,” spoke Lloyd, “what does this mean? Spears — slaves? Are you arming negroes?”

“Arming everybody!” cried Stevens, with a cool imprecation. “Slavery is war and everlasting captivity. We’ve armed the under dog in the fight. The boot shall be upon the other leg.”

The blood left Quantrell’s lips and head, to hear this hard avowal, which seemed to the Marylander like hollow blasphemy, unmeant and merely pretended.

“You will need an army, my indomitable friend, to carry out that idea.”

“We have got it,” Stevens exclaimed, in something between mockery and rapture; “see it hurrying yonder in the spirit realm — the cloud-bannered army of the Lord!”

As he raised his hand toward the small, wind-driven clouds trooping down the pallid gulf of sky between the black banks of mountains, Stevens seemed in a species of ecstasy, yet cold, like fishes disporting; and the weapons belted around him — pistols and a knife — shone coldly red in the flare of the fagots which burned, alarmed and drooping, like some of the negro robbers; yet others of these negroes had the appearance of boldness, like all the whites in the band, and, taking in the scene an instant as carefully as his stirred feelings would allow, Quantrell observed:

“Stevens, if you’re a lunatic, you’re a good one. And I suppose you are the commander of these people?”

“I?” Stevens answered, self-scornfully. “Why, our commander is a man so great, I am not fit to be his orderly sergeant! I happen, through want of better recruits, to be third in the command, but I’m willing to be the last.”

“Who is your captain?”

“Come, you shall see him; for he is talking to the prisoners.”

As they stepped out of the cold engine-room, the night wind came in a shriek down the long, grassy corridor between the great armories, bringing some autumnal leaves from the regular lines of trees, and, in the softened wind-wail which followed, was blended a dog’s inquiring howl.

“Albion!” spoke Lloyd, as his dog came with obsequious gladness to his feet.

The narrow watch-room contained men standing and others sitting, and all trying to get some warmth from the stove, for the weather was unusually keen for October on the Potomac. A voice of somewhat nervous tension, and of metallic sounding in that brick-walled corridor, spoke up from among the group:

“Your name will be a help to me, sir. Are you his grandson?”

“Ah — great-grandson, captain; descended, sah, from his youngest brother, Charles, sah.”

The person standing was a portly man who seemed endeavoring to rally his spirits into some complacency as he spoke these sentences in the nearly dark place.

“Lewis Washington, great-grand-nephew of General George Washington,” repeated the voice of him sitting, which thrilled through Lloyd Quantrell and made him turn pale.

“And this is General Washington’s sword, captain,” spoke up a prompt little voice. “I had the tact, captain, to make him show it to me a month ago, and I said, ‘We shall want that, for prestige!’”

“And don’t forget, captain, that Frederick the Great gave it to old Washington,” spoke up Stevens, over the heads of those standing; “he said it was from the oldest general in Europe to the greatest of the age. We think another great man can wear it again!”

“No flattery, Stevens!” exclaimed the metallic voice, low among the huddling people. — “Colonel Washington, I will exchange you as soon as it is daylight, and you can see to write an order, for any able-bodied negro whatever. Your great ancestor’s sword I will fight with for liberty again. Did you ever hear of me?”

“Ah, no, captain, sah,” the voice of the portly man answered, quite subdued.

“Then, sir, you are not as familiar as General Washington with the great occurrences of your times. I have fought for American freedom in greater battles than Lexington and Concord. To-night I have come to make Virginia free, and travel on this mountain-line as far as God will let me march, to startle slavery in the vales. I went to Kansas by the trail and sowed my children’s blood there, and came away with a reward offered for my head. I shall go to Texas by the pike, or make my head a premium again. I am—”

The speaker had risen and come forward, and a way had been cleared for him.

“I know you now, old fox!” Lloyd Quantrell interposed, standing at the door by the light of one of the torches held by an armed negro — “you are Isaac Smith!”

Quantrell had already identified the voice, and now he saw the gnarled and bearded visage of the mountaineer farmer stand in the watch-house door, dressed as before, except in two particulars: a great gray army overcoat with a cape attached dropped from his shoulders, and his head was covered with a heavy cap of wild-animal skin, rimmed with shining leather. In his hand was an uncocked carbine. He looked to be a rustic gunner or teamster out, betimes, for game or work before the break of day.

“I was Isaac Smith for a stratagem,” the old man replied. “Now I am John Brown, and in that name I am come to cleanse with blood, if necessary, the crime of slavery from the land.”

“You, Pop Smith — crazy Pop Smith — are you Brown of Kansas?”

“John Brown of Black Jack; Brown of Ossawattomie! I see you have more intelligence, Mr. Quantrell, than Colonel Washington and these gentlemen.”

He pronounced the “John” long and nasal, like Jo-aw-en, dwelling upon it in that Indian guttural which abides in the resonant nomenclature of the land. A second torch held by a negro revealed his Indian figure clearer.

Between his old army-cloak skirts a belt revealed pistols, and a knife in its sheath, and the dress-sword hilt of the great Frederick thrust in the belt.

“There he stands, Quantrell,” Stevens exclaimed, “lighted up by two native citizens of Virginia, both of African descent, and I think you’ll never forget him.”

Quantrell had to look, for fascination and fear, and the plain, nearly aged figure he observed by the directions, was illuminated by the torches of that large mulatto man, who had seized his gun at the mountain farm, and the sad-cast countenance of Ashby, the fugitive.

The dog Albion, snarling once loudly at his recent chastiser, and crouching next to “point him” well, as if at some curious kind of game, finally leaped and gamboled, in the apparent idea that a gunning party was about to start and take him along.

“He sees doves,” thought Quantrell, in a moment of horror, “and doves will be left to mourn this expedition.”

Quantrell next saw at his elbow the small, stooping figure of Cook.

“Why, Captain Cook,” Lloyd exclaimed, “are you a prisoner, too?”

“Ha! that’s good!” answered the childish little man. “Don’t you know I’m a captain in the provisional government? I took the slave census of this county for Captain Brown. I spotted all the big slaveholders, Washington and Allstadt, and now I’m going into Maryland to arrest our neighbor, Mr. Byrne.”

“You treacherous spaniel!” Quantrell exclaimed, while his dog snapped at Cook’s legs. “To think I let you play on Katy’s accordion!”

“Take care!” spoke Cook, cocking his gun. “You make the mistake they made in Kansas about me — that I’m a little boy, and not a shooter. Sir, my brother-in-law is the Democratic Governor of Indiana, hating abolitionists like poison. But I’m a jayhawker to the heart!”

“What’s this?” exclaimed a harsher voice, “prisoners quarreling with our officers? This gunner-spy here? — Go in there!”

It was the dark, raven-haired Kagi, the picture of a bandit, and he and Cook menaced Quantrell with their short rifles and urged him toward the watchman’s chamber.

“Oliver! Watson! Captain Brown!” Lloyd called in the excitement of rage even more than fear, “are these cursed abolitionists to abuse and confine me?”

“We’re all abolitionists, Mr. Quantrell,” spoke Oliver Brown, at Quantrell’s side.

“We glory in the name,” said the voice of Watson Brown, at the other side.

“Pop Smith! Captain Brown!”

Lloyd had turned to the old Kansas chief, who was giving some directions at the wagon-side.

“Mr. Quantrell,” observed that person, severely, looking up, “I let you go at the farm, when my officers wanted to take your life. You were instructed, sir, to keep off the streets. The first thing we hear of you is a shot from your fowling-piece at my son Watson, which I returned. The next shot I fire at you will be at closer quarters, sir! Then you walk into my headquarters and blow the fire-horn, sir. Let me have no more of your rowdy capers, but go in there among the prisoners!”

As John Brown spoke, the fagots flashed into his eyes, and something of a wild beast sparkled there.

Quantrell turned and fled into the narrow part of the engine-house.

For an instant the fickle torches shone upon the fresh, untarnished spears of moving negroes, and low, firm, military commands were heard upon the night, and then the door closed and all was dark except the reddening clay of the little stove and dark sky coming in at a large round window above the watch-house door.

He heard a robber sentry pacing on the ground without, and the call of “Halt!” or “Who comes there?”

Lloyd leaned against the door in actual terror — not merely the fear of death, but the mental paralysis following these startling discoveries.

Not thirty-six hours had passed since he met this resolute bandit on the mountains. Now he realized everything.

The strange and mystic sermon of Isaac Smith on the mountain-top, upon war and military strategy, had been the personal cogitation of John Brown, the Border murderer, upon the campaign he meant next day to begin in Virginia.

The fisherman’s “gig” carried in the mountains by Smith’s sons was one of many spears, to arm negro slaves, who would be unfamiliar with more complex weapons.

The boast of Isaac Smith, that he owned a certain number of negroes, meant that John Brown controlled them for a war against their masters.

The reflections of Smith on Broderick’s death were incitements of John Brown to his sons to revenge blood, shed by pro-slavery men.

The mountain farm of Isaac Smith and sons was the rendezvous for a vast recruitment of abolitionists and negroes to drop upon Virginia in a single night from the great Northern State close by, and to aid John Brown, the fanatical bandit, to capture the tens of thousands of stands of muskets in Harper’s Ferry, and arm a mighty insurrection!

Now Quantrell could understand the suspicious and even harsh treatment of himself at the rude mountain farm, his examination by Kagi and Stevens, and the deadly danger he had been in, as a supposed spy, entering their lair in the very instant of their descent upon a peaceful State.

He felt with agony and wonder that if he had discarded, before he came to that farm, Katy Bosler’s poor little accordion, and had brought no music to be his intercessor, his body might now be lying in the upland thickets for the mountain crows to pick.

This dark and superstitious Kagi was, no doubt, the second to Ossawattomie Brown in command, and had power of life and death over Lloyd and every innocent prisoner.

As these coincidences and emotions rushed together, the young man felt not wholly a sense of despair, but of mental occupation too great and oppressive for his trifling and heedless mind, to which all his youth had been like a schoolboy’s truant day, spent amid the wild haws and mountain plums, and by the rivulets, stoning the birds. In a day and a night he had come to the great crises of love, religious conviction, marriage engagement, fear of death, and prophecy.

Had he yet seen that which could change his destiny?

This question he asked himself slowly, and the sense of fear slowly dissipated from his clearing and cooling brain.

He felt again as he had in the saloon, but a few rods distant, when he measured physical strength and address with the “soul-drivers” and slave-catchers there, and at every blow had rejoiced and delighted in the perfect clairvoyance of his mind; yet, with this transference of purpose and returning courage, came also a cold, appetizing instinct, like the shark’s, for human prey, and he almost smiled out of his late excitement, though he ground his teeth.

“If I ever get out of here,” Lloyd Quantrell muttered, “death, death to all abolitionists!”

He felt so nonchalantly that he had found somebody to distinctly hate, that he softly, musically, forgetfully, uttered the rooster’s crow of victory, as in the saloon when he smote the Logans down.

A dog barked at his feet.

“Ha, my faithful Albion, you here?” said Lloyd aloud, stooping and lifting his dog in his arms. “Bark again, and I will crow again, and they shall be our challenge. ‘Death, death to abolitionists!’”

The dog replied right earnestly. The young man, with spirits fully recovered, crowed clear and loud.

In a minute the chanticleers of Harper’s Ferry were heard responding, showing that it was nearly morn.


 

CHAPTER XIV.

LEXINGTON, NOT CONCORD.

THE watch-house was about twenty-four feet deep and half as wide, and had windows on all sides except in the brick partition, which was a solid wall, and which left the engine-house portion nearly square. The windows in this structure were generally of an arched form, very high above the ground, being, indeed, segments of the brick arches which composed the walls, and the watch-house door was uniform with the two doors in the engine-house portion — a broad double door with a wicket in it.

These high windows showed the dark sky, and from the room-corners showed the blacker mountain shoulders and perhaps some few garrets of houses up the cliff. In one of these garrets a candle burned, and Lloyd wondered if there the infant was not being born whose baby hand had pushed down Jefferson’s Rock and fulfilled the prophecy.

His mind reverted to the Dunker love-feast and that other babe which had been born in a stable like this; for the watch-house might have originally been the stall of horses to pull the fire-engine. Across the way was the inn of Nativity, perhaps, with travelers delayed, going up to their capital. “And here,” concluded Quantrell, “may be Herod’s soldiery seeking the young child’s life.”

A quiet awe fell upon him like the cold water of the Dunker baptism chilling the convert. He thought of Katy’s prayer for his soul, and her solemn words inclined him to devotion now:

“God gif me this soul, and let it drink thy precious blood!”

He put his hand to his eyes and repeated the first prayer he had ever made with deep sincerity, though the words had been his task at school:

Parce nobis, Jesu! Libera nos a malo!

In asking mercy and deliverance from evil, he bowed his head and added, “God bless Katy!”

The dog began to scratch the door and to whine.

Quantrell touched something at his button-hole — the ribbon of Miss Light Pittson.

At once the phantom of Katy Bosler seemed to disappear, and the ardent and noble youth of the lady whose admiration he had so candidly received, awoke a more worldly flutter in his breast.

“Something makes me want to see that fine girl once more,” Quantrell thought; “she called me her knight. Her father is a senator!”

The pointer-dog leaped upon him fondly and touched his cold muzzle to Lloyd’s face.

“If I had not seen Katy first, Albion,” mused Lloyd, “I should have fallen in love with Light. But the light in Katy’s eyes outshines hers.”

He turned and walked back into the cell or corridor.

Talking in low tones together were several prisoners, awed and suspicious, and they looked up at Quantrell by the stove’s poor light, and some greeted him with a thin laugh and others ceased to speak.

“Captain, ah — sah!” spoke a portly man whom Lloyd guessed to be Colonel Washington, and who had begun his sentence with courtly intentions, but judged it best to round up without saying anything.

“I’m not one of the captains,” Lloyd answered; “my uncle Quantrell keeps a slave-pen at Baltimore, and I guess that ought to be guarantee for me, with you men, at least.”

“Ah! yes — sah!” said the colonel, but hardly more considerate, as if his suspicions had been satisfied but not his scruples.

“What’s yourn?” asked an old man who had been sitting, and who started up and looked at Lloyd unsteadily. “Bitters? Gin, did you say? Tansy? Fi’penny bit — fi’penny bit.”

“Watty! Watty!” interposed another man of age, but less infirm, “you’re not tending bar this morning. You’re tuk, Watty! — He’s a little off his Americanus, sir; I mean he’s not just right in his head, since he’s been tuk.”

“Fi’penny bit! Come ag’in!” muttered the old bar-keeper, settling to his bench.

“And what are you, my friend?” Quantrell asked of the third person.

“Me? Oh, I’m the armory bell-ringer. I’ve rung that bell thirty-five year. I never missed but of a Sunday and a holiday. Dear me! ef Cap’n Brown don’t let me go ring it at six o’clock, I’ll go off of my Americanus. What’ll old Ball say?”

“Oh, yes, what will old Ball say?” cried half a dozen voices. “Old Ball ’ll come and git tuk.”

“Ah! yes — sah!” coincided Colonel Washington, not yet settled that he ought to say something. In the pause, after waiting for him, the bar-keeper mumbled:

“Medford, Jamaikey, or Santycroo? He-he! All same bottle, gen’lemen. Fi’penny bit — fi’penny bit! Come ag’in.”

“Watty has to git up fur the airly trade at the bar,” explained the bell-ringer. “You see they’ll all git tuk — them airly birds — this mornin’; fur they’ll come to git their drams, an’ Cap’n Brown ’ll git ’em all.”

“An’ git ole Ball, too — ha! ha!” shouted the great body of the prisoners.

“Dear me!” spoke the bell-ringer, again absently, “ef I can’t ring the bell at the minute, may be I’ll git discharged. That would set me clar off of my Americanus.”

The door opened, and three more prisoners were brought in, followed by three of the Kansas party, whom Lloyd identified to be Kagi, young Ned Coppock, from Iowa, and Newby, the handsome mulatto man who had been rude to Quantrell.

“Cold night for October,” Kagi said.

“Colder morning for you!” Quantrell spoke up, with deep meaning and dislike.

“Blathering yet, are you?” Kagi replied, his cocked gun across his lap, leaning to the stove.

“That worm is crawling toward you,” Quantrell said, remembering the man’s pallor and superstition.

Kagi showed the same ghastly skin for a minute amid his long, dead hair, and then spoke in a tone of enforced quiet:

“Then that star is drawing near me.”

He looked at Lloyd with a determination in which high fanaticism was blent, and without further anger.

“No quarrelin’ in the bar, gen’lemen,” old Watty, the bar-keeper, started up; “drink with the house! Whisky? Ahalt’s or Horsey’s? Lemon-peel? Fi’penny bit — fi’penny bit! Come ag’in.”

“There, now, see what you’ll come to!” Kagi observed, looking straight at Quantrell and indicating old Watty with his head. “Whisky will fetch you there. Slavery and whisky are distilled out of each other.”

“Did you ever drink whisky?” asked Lloyd.

“No.”

“Did you ever have a slave?”

“I’m not that kind of a serpent.”

“That’s just what I supposed,” said Lloyd; “you’re an ignorant fanatic.”

“Ah, sah — sah!” put in Colonel Washington, a little apprehensive of a murder, and about to say something, but reconsidering it.

“Washington,” spoke Kagi, “if you was worthy of the only celebrity in your family, you would have them pistols of Lafayette and the sword of the King of Prooshey, and be leading this expedeetion, instead of throwing it on to an old saint like Captain Brown. Freedom might build you up, as slavery has about buried you!”

“Ah, sah!” Colonel Washington exclaimed, with an instant’s asperity, and then after a pause concluded with great docility — “indeed, sah, captain!”

“Solgers,” spoke up the bell-ringer, “what ’ll ole Ball do to me? what’ll the sup’rintindon do? I must ring that bell, or I’ll go off of my Americanus clar.”

“Not this mornin’!” spoke up the bright-faced, negligently-dressed Coppock. “You and us and all can ring it, when slavery is over. Then, I calkelate, it’ll be glad enough to ring itself.”

“He-he!” chuckled a prisoner, “ole Ball — when he’s tuk, what ’ll he say?”

A low laugh, somewhat suppressed by awe, went around the humbler set of prisoners, and old Watty, who had been dozing, started up, saying:

“What’s yourn? I’m gwyn to close the bar and git some sleep. Hollin? Ole Tom? Peppermint? Be quick! Fi’penny bit — fi’penny bit!”

“Ned,” said Quantrell, familiarly, to young Coppock, “you’re not a bad-looking fellow. Don’t you know you’ll be hanged for this freak to-night? What got you into it?”

“Common sense, I calkelate!” Coppock answered, amiably. “If I saw you working and spending the sweat of your brow for a man who stood over you with a whip and didn’t pay you wages, wouldn’t it be my duty to interfere? Wouldn’t you interfere for me, oppressed like that? I think you would.”

“Not for a nigger,” answered Lloyd Quantrell.

“I didn’t see no exceptions made against negroes in my Bible,” Coppock spoke, unexcitedly. “Nor in my Declaration of Independence, neither! Captain Brown — he was ready to throw his life in. So I throwed in mine!”

Coppock tightened his belt, full of arms, which he had loosened while warming, looked at the breech-loading of his gun, and started up.

“What do you think of my being heah?”

The voice was that of the fine-looking but fierce mulatto man, and he was looking right at Quantrell, who replied with indignation:

“I think you will stay here, when you get your deserts.”

“Thank you,” said the man, armed like a Turk, with pistols, dirk, and small, cunning rifle. “I know you mean I ought to die heah; but you never told as much truth in yo’ life. Heah, in the county of Jefferson, I was born. So was Mr. Kagi’s folks. The paymaster’s clerk of this armory is in the family that owned me. I run away to be a free man! I left behind me a wife I love as much as you kin love yo’ sweetheart, God knows that! She’s had nine childern.”

He stopped, still fierce, but trembling at the throat, as if agony was close behind his audacity.

“Don’t cry, now,” Lloyd said; “I can feel for you.”

“I can’t cry,” spoke the man, with a proud intensity. “I come heah to fight, not to cry. These rocks around Harper’s Ferry, I’s seen so many years, is full of crows. Not a black crow that makes his nest in them rocks won’t fight for his young against the eagles that tries to eat them. Do you think I could stay yonder in Ohio when my little childern called me heah, and Captain Brown called me, too? I had to be a man!”

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Watty, the bar-keeper, starting up, “I reckon I’ll sell a nigger a drink! Brandy? (good enough for you!) Tansy? Fi’penny bit — fi’penny bit.”

“Where is your wife now?” Lloyd Quantrell inquired, interested, notwithstanding his repulsion.

Newby, the mulatto, hesitated, and a furious scowl came upon his brow.

“It’s not my shame, nor hers,” he continued; “it’s the shame of this infamous slavery! She’s got another family of childern by her master’s son, and his and mine will both be slaves, unless I make them free.”

Unable longer to suppress his sensibilities and excitement, the spirited mulatto arose and disappeared into the night.

“What do you think of that, Colonel Washington?” asked Kagi, turning his strong, almost gloomy countenance upon the chief prisoner. “Is that man merely an intruder in the land of his birth? Or has he here rights strengthened by wrongs — injuries which would make you die for shame, or fight for shame?”

“Captain, never did I hea’ such rebellious and unconstitutional opinions advanced, sah — ah, sah!”

The legatee of the Father of his Country had reconsidered his reply before he made it.

Kagi also departed, and Quantrell asked Colonel Washington what he expected Smith, or Brown, would do with his prisoners.

“Sah,” answered the colonel, with a deep outburst of feeling, “they’ll sacrifice us all! Men with no respect, sah, for the Constitution, sah, can have no respect for human life or the ten commandments — ah, sah!”

The colonel was cut short by the entrance of William Thompson, the chief outlaw’s connection.

“Mr. Quantrell,” said this young man, “there’s a lady on the train our chief has stopped, who wants to know why the cars can’t proceed.”

“Light Pittson!” exclaimed the prisoner; “she asked me to do her a service. William, you must get me permission to go. It is a woman, dear to me already.”

“Some of our superior officers will have to give you leave, Mr. Quantrell. I’m only a lieutenant.”

“Go see Captain Brown for me, or Captain Stevens! You may want me, William Thompson, when you will have no other friend in the world. Do this, and then I will hear your call!”

“I should like to do anything right, sir. But here is Captain Stevens.”

Stevens entered, and Quantrell addressed him with insinuating heartiness:

“Cap, why do you keep that train, full of innocent passengers, standing frightened and tired all night? It’s got the mail. You might as well be robbing the mail as to be alarming all those females. The Government and the women will both resent it.”

“It’s not my idee,” said Stevens, shaking his head. “It wa’n’t in the plan of our campaign, neither. But here’s the commander-in-chief!”

Isaac Smith, as Lloyd still named him, came in and looked around calmly, like one settled in mind by warlike responsibility.

“What are you debating, Stevens, with the prisoners?” he asked.

“There are passengers out yonder at the station,” young Thompson spoke, “who have sent me here to speak to Mr. Quantrell and get them permission to proceed to their destination. They are hungry and some are sick. I don’t see, father, why you keep them there. They’ll only join against us.”

“Hasn’t that train proceeded?” the wiry, bearded bandit exclaimed; “I have been inspecting the posts, and supposed it had gone on. Who stopped it?”

“Watson Brown and Stuart Taylor. You told them to let nothing cross the bridge.”

“It was my oversight and their mistake,” the leader said, with a serious look. “All military orders ought to be obeyed, but with intelligence. I have been made to antagonize the Government.”

“And to murder a railroad hand — a black man, too — I have seen him dying, Pop Smith,” Quantrell spoke, clear and indignant. “You can not lose a moment in repairing a part of your offense. Senator Pittson is on that train with his family. He told me he suspected you to be the unknown marauder here. His daughter has sent for me to come to their relief. We’ll go, old man, together!”

Concluding kindly, as he had commenced sternly, Quantrell’s suggestion was accompanied by a stride forward and a hand upon the old leader’s arm. They walked into the night, and Brown or Smith went up to his guards and spoke:

“Hazlett, Lehman, go find the conductor of that train — one of you; the other go order my son upon the bridge to let the train go safely past. I will myself guard it across the river. — Bring your light here, my man!”

The negro Ashby, a little more at ease, came forward with the torch, and it shone upon a raw-boned, tall young man, ten years or more older than Quantrell, with red hair and dull, brown eyes. Quantrell remembered him long afterward by his name being descriptive of the color of those forbidding hazel eyes — Hazle-tt.

“The conductor was too scared to go on when we told him,” Hazlett said, slipping his carbine under his blanket, which was wound around his body.

The other person, addressed as Lehman, was of black hair and bright, boyish face, hardly of citizen age. He measured Quantrell’s strong form an instant and said:

“Captain Brown, you don’t want this man. Put him on the train and send him off!”

He gave a significant look to Lloyd, who had the opportunity to say to Lehman, also, soon afterward, upon the bridge:

“I’ll do you a good turn, my boy. Take your own advice, and never cross that bridge again.”

“And leave my captain and comrades?” the boy replied; “I’ll leave my body on one of them rocks first!” — pointing to the river.


 

CHAPTER XVI.

THE SUCK.

John Brown returns Lloyd to the train, which he allows to get underway. But Quantrell is drawn to the action at Harper’s Ferry, and after looking in on the Pittsons, he alights near Sandy Hook, on the Maryland side of the Potomac, where he has lodged the night before his initial encounter with Isaac Smith and sons. As the train moves “eastward under the mountain-crags,” he declares: “I’ll wake my landlord up, and fill my flask, and tell him the news.”

“THEY’RE fighting at the Ferry,” Lloyd said to the landlord, who arose half awake, and was not inquisitive.

“Always fightin’ thar,” the landlord replied, giving him some new country whisky.

“Abolitionists have taken the Ferry,” Lloyd explained.

“Then they’ll git tuk,” the landlord observed, as if the Ferry was “tuk” every night. “Harper’s Ferry is an ole suck.”

“Suck?” repeated Quantrell, struck with the word; “how a suck?”

“That’s the name of it. Injuns called it the Hole and the Suck. Nobody ever gits out that gits in thar. Railroad stuck thar for years. Gov’ment can’t git out. It’s the Suck.”

“‘Sucks people in,’ you mean?”

“Yes; ole Bob Harper tuk it up from Pete Stevens over a hundered years ago. Pete had squatted thar years on Lord Fairfax and couldn’t git out. Bob Harper left his bones thar. The floods gits it, the winds gits it, whisky gits it, and now, did you say, the abolitionists has got it? It’ll be a suck.”

“Old Isaac Smith and sons have took it,” Lloyd said, falling into the syntax of the place. “They and a band of abolitionists. They’re killing people there.”

“Isaac Smith?” the landlord said. “And sons? Is them abolitionists? They stopped with me when they fust come yer. They come to Sandy Hook last July, an’ said they was lookin’ for minerals, an’ sheep-lands an’ farms. Well, well! Is them abolitionists? I thought they was Christians. They’ll find Harper’s Ferry a suck.”

The landlord filled Quantrell’s flask, put up his bottle, and went to bed. Having slept there two nights before, the gunner sought his own room mechanically, and stretching himself on the bed said, sleepily, “False to Katy! — not I”; and then, it seemed to him, the sun rose right into his eyes. He had fallen asleep, probably for hours.

Nobody was awake in the hotel. He strolled up the road leading from the river, and found himself in Pleasant Valley, between the two mountain-lines, in rugged farm-country. He retraced his road under Maryland Heights back toward Harper’s Ferry, and soon saw that picturesque village standing like the nipple above “The Suck.” The sun was just rising up the shining lap of the Potomac, and shooting silver arrows at the little city, which stood out like a target.

Harper’s Ferry appeared between the two rivers, rising like a great green mound, with a road dividing it over the top through a ravine, and another road around the base of the mound; and for a little way up its scarp hung or clung the picturesque little town, which also raveled along the upland road among borders of shade-trees till it disappeared over the summit. This hill was several hundred feet high, and three or four churches presented their gables from its grassy face, as if their pulpits had been buried in the earth. A spire or belfry or mountain graveyard added points of whiteness to the green background or clear gray sky, and some stone walls and terraces and bits of pasture — land where cows were quietly grazing in the airy tops gave a faint sense of inhabitancy. To the right over the Potomac the eastern portion of the mound terminated in a nearly perpendicular crag, out of which grew a pale-green thicket of trees and bushes, leaning almost horizontally. From near this abrupt headland to the low cape of the mound extended the stately line of low brick factories with high chimneys, and in the midst a lofty flag-mast. These buildings in their continuation also turned the cape and extended a little way up the other river, and below the factory line ran railroads coming down the sides of the two rivers and meeting at a covered bridge of wood which spanned the Potomac on arches of stone to the Maryland shore.

In overlapping rows of irregular heights the dormer-windowed houses and other dwellings, more detached, caught in their panes of glass the rising sun which shone through the rifted precipices up the broad, islet-sprinkled, rock-barred rivers, making them seem aisles of silver between borders of green and russet. A canal wound along the larger river like a silver cord under the bare crags of Maryland.

Another bridge, starting from near the commencement of the larger one, passed on slender abutments to the mountain above the Shenandoah. This mountain at the cape above the mingling of the rivers fell in perpendicular ledges or chimneys almost a thousand feet to the woodlands which grew from its débris and spread toward the eye in graceful wreaths of verdurous mountain, along whose sides could be seen the eagles, vultures, and crows circling as if around nests concealed in the rocks. For several miles these Virginia precipices curled over the Potomac as if seeking courage to span it and connect with the bald, scarred wall of Maryland Mountain; but failing to do so till far below, a valley found place in Maryland to empty its creeks into the augmented Potomac between these hesitating ridges.

Thus the town of Harper’s Ferry slumbered at the base of its own acclivity, between the jaws of grander mountains which threatened to fall upon it and drown it in a deluge, like that which had probably broken them asunder. There seemed wanting, to complete the subjugation of the town, some mighty castle of the feudal age to crown its dome of greenness. He who descends the Alpine torrents toward the great plain of Lombardy may see sublimer heights for the old Ghibelline castles which frown toward the Papal sees, but nowhere else could he see two such rivers meet and go forward like white-plumed cavalry to wash the old Catholic counties of the plain of Maryland.

An autumn russet lay inwoven with the green and gray scarps of the desolate mountains, like camp-fires which had gone out, in the awe of what had seized upon the usually whistling and hammering town in the vale. The crows and vultures chattered or circled in wondering gossip or augury about the steepling chimneys of Loudoun Heights, as on that morning when Romulus and Remus watched the birds of omen and spilled the first blood of brethren in cuddling Rome.

The little city hugging the heights, familiar with deluges, forging arms for battle, and often sheeted over by the thunder-storms, was on this day so commonplace amid its great besetments, that it stirred no more than the water-snakes upon the surface of the river rocks, which felt their cold blood grow torpid in the cloudy October air. The insensate and the superstitious, the vulgar and the rapt, lethargy and Nemesis, went together, as on that day when, at the walls of Troy, a wooden horse arose ridiculous, but in the sky a serpent shook the stout soul of the protesting priest.

The Shenandoah, in cool, green rapids and white ripples, came around a shoulder of wooded mountain in a stately curve, and a low stone dike, partly natural, held its current back, to guide the water-power into two milling canals which formed green islands under the mutilated heights of Jefferson’s Rock. These islands were inhabited by artisans and by toilers in the tall grist-mills there, and the upper island was another Government armory, with a line of workshops inclosed by a wall and entered by a bridge across the mill-sluice. Within the wall, a cupola tower in the façade inclosed a bell and upheld a flag-staff, and behind the rifle-works, next to the river, a railway ran toward the great Valley of Virginia.

The sound of the Shenandoah churning among huge rocks and moaning over the low dam never was unheard here in the busiest days, and in the still dawn it seemed to speak a legend in the voice of sobbing, like the legend of bondage by the rivers of Babylon.

Upon the summits above Jefferson’s Rock lived the chief officials of Harper’s Ferry, in roomy mansions, and thus the double river-gorge and rocky redan of the upper town maintained a feudal appearance, and had that military air as of some castellated pass held for a distant emperor by his various mercenary bands.

A little passenger-packet lay in the canal, with steam up, ready to make her trip to Washington city through the many locks. Looking up at the telegraph-poles, Lloyd Quantrell saw that their wires had been torn and the broken strands hung near the bridge-entrance.

“Poor Heywood!” he said, thinking of the wounded negro; “no wonder he could not apprise me of the coming train. Smith’s band had severed communications. But by this time the night express is nearly at Baltimore, and all Maryland will be aroused.”

Within the entrance of the Potomac bridge a form with a spear came out of the dark shadows and sternly ordered Quantrell to halt.

“Ashby! Is that your voice?”

“Halt! Ef you don’t, I’ll kill you!”

The negro drove his spear close to Quantrell’s throat.

“Kill me,” said Quantrell. “Do! because I pitied you when your old father died. Because I was hated for taking your part. Because I fought and whipped your catchers. Come here and look at me, Ashby!”

The darkness, growing familiar, showed the negro to drop his spear and gaze at his prisoner irresolutely. He wore the old straw hat his dead father had worn, but around his nearly naked body a blanket was tied, like the other abolitionists’ uniform; his feet were naked, and he limped.

“Kill the only man who can save you from a horrible death, Ashby! By noon to-day you and the men who have seduced you will be howling on your backs for water to cool your wounds.”

“What kin I do?” the escaped slave exclaimed. “I come for my daddy. Dey killed him and tuk me. De Kinsas men set on to ’em and give me freedom and told me to fight for my race. I must! I know I’ll die, but I must fight. Come with me, or I’ll call Cap’n Watson Brown yonder!”

He raised and clinched his spear again. In the perspective of the bridge-tube, Quantrell saw the forms of two more men. He spoke with quiet decision:

“Ashby, I am going to buy you and send you North to your mother. Mr. Beall has told me your story. Your mother never meant to have you mixed up in a rebellion like this. You have done your duty to your father, and I can pardon and pity you.”

The kind tones brought down the negro’s pike again.

“Where is the man who owned you?”

“Over yer in Marylin.”

“What are you sentinel for at this point?”

“I was goin’ with Cap’n Cook and his party over to git de guns at de farm, but I limped so, dey leff me yer and tole me to take everybody prisoners an’ march ’em to de engine-house.”

“March me there, Ashby. Tell Captain Brown’s officers and men that I was kind to you when your father died. You can help me out of danger, and I will try to save your life in return for it. Hide this piece of money to buy shelter, or food, or conveyance, if you need them. Keep me this day in your humble care and watch, and to-morrow I will not forget it.”

“Mosster,” the negro said, “I’ll do de best I kin for you, for your kindness. My heart’s mos’ broke.”

“Halt! Who comes there?” cried a bold voice from the middle of the bridge as they advanced.

“Friend with a prisoner!”

“Advance, friend with the prisoner! Who is it?” spoke the voice of Watson Brown.

Isabell!” resonantly answered Quantrell.

There was a startled motion, and the voice was not so bold, as it stammered:

“Isabel? What Isabel — not mine?”

“Watson,” said Quantrell, coming closer, “it’s Lloyd, whom you met on the mountains.”

“Who answered ‘Isabel,’ sir?”

The young man was stern and excited.

“It must have been an echo,” Quantrell replied, carelessly, but watching the young invader closely. “Your father let me out on my parole. I’ve seen my friends off, and I’m coming back.”

“I know I heard my wife’s name,” repeated Watson Brown.

“It’s probably an echo from the wind, my poor fellow — some premonition — some spirit, such as the spirits Captain Stevens sees.”

“I never believed in such things before,” the son of Ossawattomie Brown muttered. “‘Isabel’ is my wife. She has a little baby I never saw, sir. Where she lives, in the great North Woods, the snow drifts into our bedroom and the wind moans in sounds like that I heard, through the long winter soon to begin.”

“You are cruel to Isabel, Watson. What are the moans of negroes to the call of your wife and baby-child?”

“In God’s ears they are the same, my soul tells me. I can’t go home while things are done that I have seen, even in Maryland. Nine black men died and one killed himself near our mountain farm since we have lived there; all on slavery’s cruel account. — Take Mr. Quantrell to headquarters!” he ended, speaking to the negro.

“That was a home shot I gave him,” thought the Baltimorean. “I heard him blubber ‘Isabel’ to Coppock at the mountain farm. What a fanatic! Does he expect retribution for every negro mother’s heart-ache? That would take too long.”

Still, he was out of temper, spiteful but not afraid, and when he emerged from the bridge and saw Oliver Brown, hardly of man’s age, standing there in blanket and gun, he cried, with cold gayety:

“Hallo, Oliver! I’m going to my prison. No wife have I to pine for me. I hope you haven’t.”

“Yes, Mr. Quantrell. I’m sorry to see you back. I have a wife that was with me in Maryland, and I took her and my little sister back to New York before we should be in danger: her next little boy will be a Marylander, I calkelate.”

“Ah! Oliver, wasn’t that selfish, to remove your women from danger, and start insurrection on ours?”

A young connection of the Smiths, named Dolph or Dauph Thompson, as Quantrell had observed, replied to this reproof:

“It was about this time of the morning, I calkelate, that the Border Ruffians moved on Lawrence in Kansas, eight hundred strong. It was only two or three years ago. Artillery with ’em, too! Mississippi rifles, you can calkelate. Georgians, Alabamians, Carolinians! They looked as if the pirates had took the poor-house. Jeff Thompson, of Harper’s Ferry here, and now mayor of the city of Saint Joe, I calkelate was among ’em. United States Senator Atchison addressed ’em — drunk, you can bet! ‘Boys,’ says he, ‘to-day I’m a Kickapoo ranger. If you find a woman armed as a soldier, trample her under foot as you would a snake.’ A tiger was on their flag. They broke the printing-presses, robbed the people, pillaged from men and women, stole ladies’ letters, blew up the buildings, and sacked the town. I calkelate I know, for my brother Henry shed his blood there.”

“My brother Frederick,” said Oliver Brown, “was shot in Kansas and killed. A preacher from Missouri murdered him. My brother John was drove crazy by chains and cruelty. Our wives was threatened with abuse and shame if we didn’t leave free soil. Through the streets of Leavenworth the scalps of men were paraded on poles. In Bloomington a woman who spoke against slavery was outraged by a troop. Where women couldn’t live, men didn’t want to settle, and here we are, outlaws back from Kansas, starting the war at the right end!”

“Prospectin’-like,” added Dolph Thompson, almost merrily.

Quantrell passed on, bitter yet awed, as the dim recollection of past troubles in Kansas was made vivid by these survivors. He thought to himself, “Perhaps they do mean to put us all to death.” As he meditated, the voice of Stevens was heard from the armory-gate. “No parley with prisoners. March your man right here! Shoot him if he hesitates!”

As Stevens spoke, his short rifle was in both hands. From both bridges blanketed guardsmen emerged, with rifles in poise. By the arsenal-gate Coppock was looking intently on, his belt full of weapons and his gun across his arm. The little wooden saloon in the eye of the vista was being opened by its proprietor within, and some of the band were watching it, also.

“March!” spoke the negro Ashby, hoarsely, looking fear, yet fidelity, at his prisoner.

John Brown, or Isaac Smith, whichever he might truly be, came out to the gate and said to Quantrell:

“I allowed you to go away from here, sir. You will be in danger, and yet I warned you carefully. — Take him in there and see that he behaves himself,” addressing the negro. “He will not be discharged again.”

“Still tender on the mourning-doves, Mr. Smith,” Quantrell replied. “Listen!”

Two guns went off close by in the public street, and sounds of running or hustling feet were heard.

“What’s that? Firing?” interestedly asked John Brown.

As they listened, another gun went off, from the arsenal-wall right opposite, and there was a loud cry of a man from up in the chasm of the hill street. Quantrell looked up where this street met the business street, and saw three of the blanketed men emerge, all three with smoking guns.

“Dat time I got him!” said a hoarse voice, as the negro, Newby, quietly wiped his rifle-top with his blanket.

Another scream, or groan, floated from the railway-station, where the negro porter had yet several hours to live.

These awful sounds in the still morning-time, blended by the two rivers in their plaintive wail, were followed by repeated whinings of a dog, and the pointer Albion made his appearance in the armory-yard, crouching or gamboling high in the air, as if the word “dove” had touched his soft and pliant ferocities.

“Spirits!” said the man Stevens. “They’re never faraway! The men has found some citizens with arms, and sent them spirit-way. Now we’ll get prisoners.”

These sounds of war gave nervous impulse to the invaders in the streets: their heads were more erect, their vigilance was renewed. People came sauntering in and were halted and seized with a precision which paralyzed resistance or curiosity.

The evening bacchanal with a parched throat, going for his morning “cocktail,” forgot his need when confronted by an open rifle-barrel and a stranger in the wild garb of blanket, slouched hat, and belted person, bristling with killing arms. The laborer coming toward work on river, store, canal, or farm, saw this apparition, and looking round in fear beheld its duplicate cutting off his retreat, and yielded, limp and docile. The saloons, half open, felt the absence of customers, and seeing these strange forms, both black and white, their keepers dodged within, or, walking forth, were taken from their bottles.

Occasionally some man and even woman would pass along and feel queer at the unexpected sights, yet be without the understanding to pause or inquire, carried onward by a simple instinct which preserved them from arrest. Again some fierce Caucasian laborer, seeing an armed negro in his path, would raise the customary fist to strike the helot down, and, with astonishment that made him dumb, would find that negro brave and deadly, and meekly receive from such a source his own favorite execration. The damning of black souls by fellow-men was impotent that day, because the white man’s spirit had brooded over these black eggs and hatched them to armed men.

There was a sound of hoofs before Quantrell entered the gate, and a man with a pale face, whom he recognized as the village doctor, dashed past upon a horse and galloped up the hill street.

“Be firm but considerate, men,” Quantrell heard John Brown say; “capture them who resist. Take no life unless your own is in peril! But we must hold our ground.”

As he was marched toward the little engine-house, his guard, Ashby, muttered:

“Dat man up de street is dead; I heard ’em say so! Mosster Quantrell, what mus’ I do?”

“Get across that bridge, Ashby, as soon as you can! Go past Sandy Hook and cross the big mountain into Catoctin Valley. Find Jake Bosler’s farm, and say you came from me, and give my love to little Katy.”

“Dey’ll kill me, won’t dey?”

“If you stay here, you are sure to be killed. This place is the Suck, and takes everything to the bottom.”

Entering the watch-house again, Quantrell found it uncomfortably full, and some of the occupants were complaining of thirst and fatigue and hunger. Almost every moment some new prisoner was brought in, and those previously confined scanned the new-comer’s person or timidly listened to the few who had volatility enough to talk.

“What do you think they mean to do with us, Colonel Washington?” asked the young Baltimorean.

“Ah — sah!” The gentleman spoke with such circumspection that Quantrell with asperity said:

“Sir, our situation levels distinctions. You should play the man here, and your suspicions of your fellow-prisoners are unworthy. It is your own State, your native county, that is invaded. I ask you for your ideas in our common emergency.”

The gentleman replied, with subdued effort:

“Nothing in Brown’s history is against my conviction that he will kill us all, sah. I have been searching my poor, breakfastless mind, to recollect what I can of his past in Kansas. I feel sure, sah, that this is the same man who, the day after the abolition settlement of Lawrence was destroyed, took four of his sons and one son-in-law, and grinding their sabers sharp as butcher-knives, they entered a slaveholder’s dwelling, sah, and took a father and two sons out of there prisoners; and this old man shot the father dead, and his boys — the same, no doubt, whom we see around this engine-house — hacked the victim’s sons to pieces with their sabers. The same night the old man set his sons upon two other men, who had been captured in their beds, and saw them cut down with as much indifference as a wolf. The very abolitionists in Kansas denounced such barbarity. Brown was then accused of meditating the massacre of the Kansas State Convention which was enacting a Constitution. He had previously fought two victorious actions with the slave-State settlers, and, being outlawed there, he invaded Missouri and ran off mules and slaves, sah. The mules he sold in Ohio at public auction, and the Yankees there, sah, bought them because stolen. The slaves he stole there, may be in this robber army to-night, sah.”

No rage was in this statement, but a memory barely struggling above despair, and the revelation increased the doubt, and therefore the numb dread, in Lloyd Quantrell’s mind. He asked himself if Watson and Oliver Brown could have done such wonders.

“Colonel,” he whispered, “surely we can fight for our lives?”

“Ah — sah!” the inoffensive, hale, but broken man replied, “we are like butchers’ calves, sah. What I saw when taken from my bed, sah, convinced me I was valuable for nothing but my slaves and the slaughter, sah.”

“Nobody drinkin’?” spoke old Watty, the bar-keeper; among the crowd. “I reckon I’ll turn the lights down. They has to be paid for! Sherry cobblaw? Brandy toddy? Fi’penny-bit! — fi’pennybit!”

“Watty! Watty! you forgit you’re tuk. You’re off of your Americanus, Watty! See all our neighbors comin’ to call on us — all tuk!”

“All but ole Ball!” echoed a few faint and tired voices. “What will ole Ball say?”

“Ole Ball ’ll say, ‘Who didn’t ring that bell accordin’ to my orders?’ That’s what ole Ball ’ll say. Then I’ll be clar off my Americanus!

There came floating down the gray and sharp October morning a sound like musical vibration. The whine of a dog seemed to protest against it.

“Hark!” spoke the bell-ringer. “Has Captain Brown dared to ring my bell? I’ve had the doin’ of it so many years, to let another do it seems like as if I was dead and heard my funeral-bell.”

With another hesitation and twanging, like some tender bird clearing its glottis of the mist, a bell directly above them began to ring, and through the vales its strong and steady tones went artlessly, in no imperious command, but mellow invitation, as if a cage of linnets had awakened full-throated and tried their hearts in song.

“It’s the Catholic church,” the bell-ringer said. “It’s the angelus they’re ringing for the workmen’s early mass.”

The sound of murmured prayers was heard among some of the humbler prisoners. Lloyd Quantrell called aloud the words of morning prayer as he remembered them at school:

“‘Gratiam tuam quæsumus Domine! Pour down Thy grace into our souls!’”

Amen!” in whispers filled the little place.

“‘As we have known the incarnation of Christ Thy Son, by the message of an angel, so may we come to the glory of the resurrection. Per eundem Christum dominum nostrum!’”

Amen!

The bell hesitated again, continued on a stroke or more, and then a shot was fired.

The bell stopped, trembling; a dog stopped howling, too.

Watty, the bar-keeper, burst into tears.

Tears came to many others at his example. Their depressed feelings, violent superstitions, uncertainty, and fainting hunger, had prepared all for some sudden burst of agony, and the little Christian prayer had touched all hearts.

“Watty’s off of his Americanus,” the bell-ringer cried, coming forward, a sob upon his voice. “Pore Watty! He wants his dram.”

“I try to ’commodate you all,” the old bar-keeper moaned; “sorry I can’t please none of you! Pay me off and — let me go!”

His aged face and straggling hairs, vacant countenance, and inoffensive village ways, touched everybody. The bell-ringer wrapped him in his arms, shed his tears upon the old vagrant head, and seemed himself about to lose his homely self-restraint.

“Who broke the bell?” articulated Watty. “I can’t hear none of ’em. They’s a-callin’ for orders, and I can’t tell. Only let me hyur you, an’ I’ll do my juty. Fi’penny-bit! — fi’penny-bit!”

The bell-ringer, himself an aged man, but of some simple decision of character, here threw himself against the watch-house door.

“You le’ me out!” he shouted. “I’m most off of my Americanus, and I’m not desponsible. I don’t own no slave. I ain’t done no harm. Shoot, if you want to. But this pore man’s got to have his dram!”

“Jimmy! Jimmy!” the bar-keeper muttered, nearly brought to reason by his friend’s exposure. “Don’t take no account at ’em. They fights as soon as they gets a little pizened. — Never mind yo’ money, friends! Go out peaceable. Go, go!”

As the guard opened the door, Quantrell’s dog rushed in, and with a yell of pain — for Smith or Brown, the bandit leader, kicked him, passing, and entered, himself looking poorly.

“Who is it making confusion here? Citizens, this is no child’s play. Two men are dead already — one for not obeying orders, and the other for carrying a weapon.”

“I ain’t got no weapon, but I’ve got a heart!” — the bell-ringer alone had the courage to speak in his fierce captor’s face. “Captain, there’s men here who want their food. They ain’t used to hollow stummicks.”

“Every man who can send me a colored person for a recruit, I will discharge,” the leader said, like one of business propositions, fixing one grayish-green eye upon the bell-ringer, and the other doing the summarizing.

The perfect daylight revealed him now, tired after the night’s exertions, wiry, with one eye preoccupied and the other like a fisher-bird’s, the nose vulturous, and the mouth as hard as intense opinionatedness and severe reflection could make it in man.

He had his arms beneath his old coat-tails, and his cap concealed there; and his unkempt hair flamed up like a beacon in ashes; and the fleece of gray and white beard made a blossom like a snow-ball to his breast-bone. Without an ornament but the dress sword-hilt of a king — no seals, no watch, no watch-guard, not even a pistol now — John Brown seemed terrible by his simplicity and indifference.

Unconstrained, natural, yet wild; not entirely sane in the expression of his eyes; deliberate but unfeeling, ready to become domestic or dreadful, like a house-cat to take a fit, he measured them all as if he was ransoming sheep.

All felt that he could toss them back like lambs to their pens if they sought to assail or evade him. His whole dress a slop-shop might have rejected; but the stringy frame within it, and lean, bushy head, at once patriarchal and animal, gave him the sense of some Calvinistic wolf — a savage qualified by theology.

“My blood,” said this apparition, in a metallic, commercial voice, “is precious to me — tolerably so.” He paused, as if reflecting just how much it might be worth. “Your blood I do not desire.” They felt a dread come over them as if it were merely want of appetite that retarded his meal. “But you are my hostages for the offenses of your disobedient neighbors, who have broken the laws of God. This is war! I mean nothing but right. But I mean all I came here for.”

Quantrell’s chilled spirit recalled the curse of Hannah Ritner, not twenty hours elapsed: “I see the rivers flowing red. Escape ye can not!”

“You may be a great man,” said the bell-ringer, not unimpressed, “and have your idees, but an empty stummick is a cruel neighbor. It’ll make a baby cry of a night. It’ll make a wild beast go catch food for its young at any peril. It’ll do more than that” — the bell-ringer dropped his voice to produce the full, pathetic effect — “it’ll make a nateral being go off of his Americanus!

He put his hand on Watty’s forehead, and Watty advanced toward John Brown unsteadily and placating:

“Drink with the house!” he said. “Guarantee everything — to come out of the same bar’l. He-he! Medford rum! Parson’s flip! Raw egg an’ hell-fire! He-he!”

“There’s a picture of slavery,” said John Brown — “the slavery of alcohol.”

“I’m one of ’em,” another prisoner cried, coming forward. “Ef you doan le’ me go git my dram, I’ll take the rams an’ git shot fightin’ somebody.”

His red eyes and unsteady hands told that his apprehensions were real.

“I can set slaves free and take them far from their masters,” John Brown remarked, looking at the two men like a magistrate sentencing some vagrants; his great mouth was firm, but his eyes had a little thoughtful pity mixed with their contempt. “Slaves of vile habits no man can set free. The thing these two men serve” — he looked over the crowd — “whips and kicks them, even in their sleep, and then they go and whip and kick their unfortunate fellow-men! Go with him” — he addressed the bell-ringer — “and order breakfast for me for twenty men. I parole you to proceed to the hotel for that purpose. If the breakfasts are not sent, my army will hold you responsible when we take you again. — As for you,” turning to the second toper, “go home, but do not stop to poison yourself anywhere on the way.”

Quantrell had a peep of this proceeding, and saw the bell-ringer turn his eyes toward the bell-station and move that way, till a sentry turned him off. He shook his head disconsolately, but took old Watty’s hand.

“Cap’n,” Watty said to John Brown, “I’ll mix you a Caner of Galilee: sodee an’ hock an’ ole Sassaurek! Then you’ll feel so good, you won’t shoot nobody. He-he!”

The lines of the invading “army,” as Captain Brown had named it, were now perfectly formed. There was a guard on the armory green, another at the yard-top, a third at the gate, and men were upon the bridge. Brown himself went with the hostages to the public street and conferred with sentinels in the two arsenal buildings opposite. Shots were heard occasionally in the upper town, as if citizens might be firing old loads from their guns or making ready for resistance.

The breakfasts were brought over from the hotel, and Brown invited the prisoners to partake thereof in the engine-house; but some nervous skeptic whispered that it might be poisoned food, and only a few, among whom was Quantrell, took advantage of the request. John Brown bowed his head before he ate, and seemed to be asking a blessing upon his meal. Albion, seeking to steal a piece of fried ham, ran against the great bandit’s claws, and was thrown toward the yard, but slipped over the old man’s arm and ran beneath one of the engines, where he howled dismally.

His meal being done, Quantrell asked permission to remain in the engine-room, which contained no other prisoners. John Brown made no answer, but went off to inspect his posts.

Quantrell began to think of Katy in Catoctin Valley, of Light Pittson in Washington, of his mother in her grave, and of the new and solemn feelings which had impelled him to intone a portion of a public prayer.

“Am I infirm in my affections?” he asked himself. “I feel no guilt. Till Sunday I never was in love; no ladies’ man have I ever been. Yet I seemed to make a conquest of the senator’s daughter as easily as of Katy. What do I mean?”

He found the pointer-dog insidiously climbing upon him, and drowsiness was in his brain; so he drew the dog to a place beneath a fire-engine, and, crawling there upon some leather harness and blankets, fell asleep.

A loud discharge of guns, so close that they seemed to have been fired at the engine-house door, awoke Quantrell, and he rushed against the door and into the armory-yard, unconscious for a moment of his whereabout. Nobody paid any attention to him in the yard, and the guards there were crouching behind the stone gateposts and handling their pieces as if to kill some expected foe. Availing himself of the confusion, the young man ran across the open plaza and along the railroad side of the yard, until he could look over the iron railing and up into the town, by the Shenandoah street.

He saw nothing but blowing smoke in front of some high brick stores, and an object fallen in the street, and feebly moving. In another instant the object was still.

The smell of brimstone was in the air. The streets were perfectly deserted except by dogs, which were smelling and snapping at the fallen object — his own dog the most forward and conspicuous.

While Quantrell looked, a rifle sounded from one of the bridges he could not see, and a piece of brick, or lead, or splinter seemed to fly from the front of one of the tall houses in line with the armory-gate. In a moment the front of this house flashed smoke and fire, as if several guns had been shot off together. From the bridge and the stone gate-piers, shots went responsive against the concealed enemy in the house.

Quantrell distinctly noted a difference in the quality of sound of the opposing guns.

“Breech-loaders,” he thought, “against the muskets of Harper’s Ferry. The Virginians have got arms.”

He noticed that no store in the village had opened its windows, though the sun was coming over the tall Loudoun Heights, some hours high. As he looked at this sun, the crows, flying around the chimneys of Loudoun Mountain, arrested his attention, and he thought of the black man Newby’s saying, that not a black crow was in those rocks but would fight for its young.

“My God!” spoke Quantrell, slowly, seeking with his eyes the object fallen in the street again, “I know that man lying yonder. It is a mulatto. It is Newby himself!”

Obeying an impulse of mingled mercy and horror, Lloyd Quantrell vaulted over a broken angle in the brick wall, and, with both hands raised higher than his head, he ran along the public street, exposed to the concealed marksmen from either side, but barely conscious of their existence. A few shots, fired from the heights around the Catholic church, rattled along the limestone crossings and macadamized roadway and rebounded from the sloping traps of cellar-ways. The golden cross above the Roman chapel seemed also extending its arms in the truce of heavenly intercession and flaming with perturbed light.

He reached the fallen object; it was a human creature, tumbled with gun in hand, and belted round with other carnal weapons, but helpless as a turtle upon its back. Quantrell knelt and spoke the sufferer’s name; a terrible wound was in his neck, out of which the blood was gushing.

“Newby, can’t you get up?”

“Cap’n Brown called me,” the pale lips muttered. “I had to be a man.”

Feet and chin stiffened together, and the first victim on either side had been a black crow fighting for its young. Quantrell took up the negro soldier’s rifle:

“‘Poor devil!” he said; “Harper’s Ferry is turning out to be a ‘suck.’”


 

CHAPTER XVII.

ASHBY’S GRATITUDE.

WHISTLING bullets past Quantrell’s head recalled him to some preserving fear. Looking down toward the armory-gate, he saw a negro from the arsenal leveling a piece at him, and the ball grazed his hair.

Quantrell retreated up the hill street, called High Street, and while he turned his head to see if he was followed, his feet stumbled upon something soft, and he was thrown to the sidewalk beside a sleeping man. Scrambling up and seeing that the man did not move, Quantrell touched him and found him cold.

“Oh, bring him in!” a voice whispered from a neighboring grocery; “the Mexicans shot him there the matther of two hours ago, and we’re afraid to walk in the strate; fur they fires at averybody.”

A gun, thrown down in the shock of being wounded, lay beside this man, and showed that he had gone forth to kill. He looked to be a herculean Irishman.

“This is the man that yonder Newby killed, no doubt,” thought Quantrell; and, as he sought to lift the bulky and heavy form, he felt himself seized and being dragged away.

Through an alley-way nearly opposite, which descended the slope into an almost unoccupied lane, right under the engine-house and wall, his captors bore him fiercely with firm hands and silent purpose, and he made no resistance whatever, considering that he had no arms and had sought to harm no man.

From various garrets, whose dormer windows partly commanded this lane, the popping of guns came momentarily and tore up the dirt around them, and scarred the long government wall. A church-bell somewhere up in the town began to ring an alarm, and over a broken place in the wall, some way ahead, a few men carrying something weighty emerged and fired their pistols at Quantrell’s abductors. The latter shook Quantrell loose, but kept him between themselves and the enemy, and began to fire their short, breech-loading guns.

Lloyd saw that his captors were both negroes, and under high excitement.

The fleeing white men made little response to the guns of these negroes, but continued to bear off their burden; and among them Quantrell thought he recognized the young planter, Beall, and the pale and frowsy Atzerodt.

“Git ova yer, or we’ll kill you in de road!” gasped one of these black men.

“Git over!” echoed the other, giving Quantrell a painful blow with the butt of his carbine.

They forced him across a picket-fence and up a slope, in a little garden or hog-yard, and near the top of this acclivity was a mighty rock which had been walled up below by human hands and made a cave or cellar for some adjacent house. Into this all three retreated from the bullets, which began to come from everywhere.

The negroes, taking breath a moment, turned on Quantrell.

“Come,” said a supple fellow named Green, “you got to die, man!”

He drew his gun and raised it.

“What?” cried Quantrell. “Kill me! What have I done?”

“You are a soul-buyer an’ a slave-trader!”

“You keeps a slave-pen and sells men like me!” the other negro, who had been called Copeland, exclaimed, with no less sullen ferocity. “We know you, an’ you got to die for our brother Newby!”

Copeland raised his gun also. The despair of death fell upon Quantrell’s soul.

“For Christ’s dear sake, men, don’t murder me! You are under a mistake. My uncle is in that business — not I.”

He had literally fallen upon his knees. The sense of dying in that cave, of moldering in such a sty, of being hideously cut off in youth and bloom and happy love, made him beg like a child. The pugilist’s bravado failed him in this test of death.

“De boot’s on de oder leg,” Copeland continued, while Quantrell grasped the carbine and turned it aside; “it’s no harder fo’ you to die than fo’ Newby, shot fo his childern!”

“I have never bought a slave, never sold one!” Quantrell gasped; “all my slaves are inherited, all well treated. Don’t bring this blood upon your hands!”

“No man’s well treated with his liberty and wages took away,” the negro Green exclaimed, his rifle at Quantrell’s head. “We’ve all got to die here. Your life for Newby’s! Say your prayers!”

“Nothin’ kin save you,” Copeland spoke, his gun at Quantrell’s heart; “we made up our minds, when you said yo’ family sold men, to kill you if one of us died, and Newby’s gone to heaven. Come!”

At that cold word, so blank yet dreadful, ‘Come!’ Quantrell’s heart and brain seemed to swoon. He said the Catholic names of “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” and threw himself with arms outspread, like the cross he surrendered his life to, upon his face and on the floor of that foul cave.

The sound of both carbines exploding made him await in cold awe the torments of some wounds. He felt nothing; but feet were treading upon him, as if men were wrestling.

“I pushed yo’ guns up. Is he dead? De Lord fo’give you!”

Raising his face at this strange voice, Quantrell saw a fourth man in the cave contending with his enemies.

This man had a negro’s face, but he seemed so bright and radiant in Quantrell’s eyes, that the cry of Nebuchadnezzar appeared to be ringing in that rocky furnace: “Lo! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!”

“Dat man didn’t do no black man harm,” said a voice; “dat man’s de black man’s friend. He fought fo’ me. He give me money to git away wid. He’s a kine man!”

As this voice spoke, a piece of gold flashed in his hand — the evidence of Quantrell’s kindness.

“He’s gone dead,” spoke the negro Copeland. “O Green! may be we’s killed a good friend.”

“Ain’t he no soul-seller?” answered Green. “It’s a pity, then.”

They gathered around Quantrell’s outstretched form.

“Po’ man!” said Ashby, the new arrival, feelingly; “de on’y kine words I got, in de lan’ whaw I was raised, dis man said to me. Lord, raise him fo’ me!”

Quantrell raised his head.

The colored men looked down wonderingly.

“Prayer, brother!” said Green to Ashby; “see how it’s answered!”

“Raise him, Lord!” cried Ashby, loudly, in the ecstasy of religious superstition.

“Raise him! Raise him, Lord!” the late assassins repeated fervently.

Quantrell arose, pale as a ghost, and for a moment speechless. He leaned upon all their hands. They watched him like a spirit.

Nothing but gratitude was in his heart, and he felt like giving thanks even to his murderers, so violently had human power been transferred in a few hours from white man to negro.

“Ashby, you turned their guns aside. I am not hurt.”

“Come, den,” Ashby shouted, “we’s mos’ surrounded. De gate’s held open for us a minute. Come!”

Quantrell and the three negroes dashed down the slope, and a wooden gate in the side-wall was held ajar. As they entered it, bullets came from old stone walls and hanging galleries, from garret-windows and from pig-pens.

They were in the armory-yard, and the gate shut fast behind them, before they had been well discovered.

“Here,” said the voice of John Brown as they reached the engine-house, “you men are just in time. I want some loop-holes picked in these brick walls.”

As the sounds of the implements in the brick masonry and of guns of different kinds made the place far from tranquil, Quantrell asked himself how many of these bandits there might be; though he had hardly seen twenty in all, they acted as if they were an army.

“What is this thing of slavery?” Quantrell questioned of a somewhat depressed but not despairing man, whose only crime in John Brown’s eyes had been slaves.

“You mean its value in property?”

“Yes, the strength or weakness of it. I never asked before, and now see, for the first time, that it is the question of questions.”

“In Virginia,” said the farmer, “we have about five hundred thousand slaves — half as many souls as the whites of Virginia.”

“Souls,” thought Quantrell, and added, “you mean that many head, not souls.”

Wills, anyway,” the farmer replied, “if what we see to-night is representative. Maryland has ninety thousand slaves and nearly as many free blacks, or say two fifths of all her—”

“Souls,” Quantrell finished; “we mean head.”

“I had rather have souls into them to-day,” the farmer remarked, “for their soul-fear is what may save our lives.”

“That’s true,” Quantrell noted; “a nigger is a religious animal. But what is the extent of the slavery in all this American Republic which John Brown has rushed against?”

“Four millions at least.”

“Worth—?”

“Oh, a thousand million dollars, I reckon. Twice that, unless this fellow gets up a black insurrection.”

“Has slavery been growing?”

“Yes; seventy years ago we hadn’t but seven hundred thousand in the country. They’re growing three quarters to a million every ten years. We’re pore with ’em, and pore without ’em. Less than thirty year ago Virginia was half minded to give slavery up, but Missouri and Texas got into the Union as slave States, and it become too profitable to let the thing go. This man’s raid to-day cuts down the value of my niggers from a thousand dollars apiece to six or seven hundred.”

“Ditto!” Quantrell remarked. “Yet I have seen times in these few hours when it would have been cheap to me to give up every slave.”

“Dreadful times!” the captive planter moaned. “I don’t see why they may not as well kill us as outrage us in this way; my stomach is in torture.”

“Here, drink from my flask,” the young man said; “don’t show it, for there’s not enough to go round, and we may want it yet for—”

“Our wounds,” replied the planter. “Sir, these men are demons. When they took me, they had studied my house till they knew every hole and corner of it.”

“They come in hyur,” spoke another person, “just befo’ the armory watch changed, and so they tuk everybody. That little Cook sot it all up. We suspected him from the quare people that come to his mother-in-law’s up yer on Union Street. He totched a school—”

“Taught it?” questioned Quantrell.

“Yes, totched our academy school up hyur by the Shinandoh, and, of cose, he picked out of the childern all about the comin’ and goin’.”

As this man ended, Lloyd observed that one of the late slaves of Mr. Washington had just opened daylight in the brick wall, and suddenly a leaden ball from outside struck this spot and came within a hair’s breadth of Isaac Smith and dropped into Quantrell’s hand, rebounding from the wall behind him.

“Here it is, Captain Brown,” Quantrell said; “it’s so hot I can’t hold it.”

“Yo’ kin pick away fur yo’self!” exclaimed the frightened negro, dropping his tool; “I’ll do no mo’ of it.”

As the negro slunk under the engine, his dreams of liberty departed, young Coppock took up the tool and began to widen the loophole. Two holes were thus made and manned, and balls came almost momentarily in the place. Some of the captives shrank, and others quietly looked at each other to give or take courage. The engine-house door was kept ajar, and just outside of it the young marksmen, black or white, replied with their rifles to every enemy. Quantrell now realized that Smith or Brown was at least twenty years the senior of every recruit he possessed.

“Is he a childish man to lead these boys,” thought Quantrell, “or are these boys manful as himself, to seek such danger?”

Through the large round windows near the ceiling the balls would come, ever and anon, making the brick-dust fly, or glinting fire upon the metal of the engine; yet not a person within was struck, and old Brown paid no more attention to these balls than if they had been of paper and thrown at a schoolmaster. Sometimes his look was anxious, and he asked a subordinate once why his re-enforcements did not come. Finally, his son, Watson Brown, came in, with a blanched look, and sank down upon his hams, speechlessly.

“My son, are you wounded?” the old man questioned.

“I think I’m hit,” said Watson Brown, whose skin had become the color of white dust in the street. “I feel queer, father.”

Quantrell had already opened the young man’s coat and removed his accoutrements. He found a perforation in his garment, and blood, and passed his hand around the lad’s body. Watson Brown seemed to have swooned, for he said:

“Is that you, Bell? Oh, let me see the little fellow!”

“Wake up, Watson!” Quantrell spoke; “it’s only a skin-wound. There’s no hole in you. Taste this whisky and you’ll be strong.”

Watson Brown pushed the flask away. His face slowly flushed up.

“Not shot?” he spoke; “no bad wound? Give me my gun!”

He was up, the blood warm again in his hopeful face, and his belt of weapons in his hands.

“Go, my son!” his father said, in a sort of dry interest. “Stand by your companions! We have a great cause.”

The young man fastened his belt around his body, looked at his gun and ammunition, and went cheerfully into the exposed yard.

“For all that,” muttered Quantrell, sinking beside the planter, and himself sick with the sight of blood, “there’s a hole in Watson Brown.”

“Poor boy!” exclaimed the planter; “bad as he is, I pity him.”

John Brown now walked into the armory-yard and began to listen to the sounds of shooting.

“I hear my guns,” he said to Coppock. “They must be my re-enforcements. Or, perhaps, they have disarmed my men.”

“Captain Brown,” said Coppock, “why don’t we hear from Captain Kagi? We’re holding High Street corner open by sentineling the arsenal wall, but nobody comes down from the Rifle-works!”

“I ordered Kagi,” said John Brown, “not to fire upon anybody; merely to hold his ground, and, if attacked, to retire upon us here. He could not defend himself there till re-enforced.”

“I calkelate he’s surrounded,” said Coppock.

John Brown opened the engine-house door and called two men in from their posts:

“Hazlett, come here! Bring Lehman with you!”

The two men appeared, in military precision, belted, blanketed, alert, and armed to the teeth.

“I want you to proceed to the Rifle-works and find how matters go with Kagi. The citizens are behaving very badly, and you will need a hostage.”

He looked around and his eye fell on Quantrell.

“Take that man,” John Brown concluded. “He is intelligent, and will understand that your safety is also his.”

“Come, march!” spoke Hazlett to Quantrell, his dull hazel eyes flashing unamiably.

“Go out in front,” the bright-faced Lehman said, peeping at his gun-stock critically; “the man who can sing ‘Home, Sweet Home’ can find his way back to it, I guess.”


 

CHAPTER XIX.

FIRST CADET SLAIN.

Approaching the Rifle-works and the Shenandoah, Lehman, Hazlett, and Quantrell observe the remants of Kagi’s men taking flight, and Kagi’s death at the hands of assorted men from Harper’s Ferry, militia arriving from Martinsburg, and even “little boys, some firing old horse-pistols, others throwing stones.” Retreating back to town, Lloyd and his captors encounter Ashby, along with a hailstorm of gunshots. The firing causes Lehman to say:

“Albert, I shall go by the upper yard. ‘Twon’t do for both of us to be took. You go by the town and take these two men along. One of us, I calkelate, if not both, will get to Captain Brown that way.”

The two men clasped each other’s hands.

“Fight, Will, and never be taken!” Hazlett said.

“I’ll do my best, Albert. If the worst comes, we’ve got friends across the river — and friends up yonder, too!”

He looked to heaven.

“Forward now, both of you!” Hazlett exclaimed, as Lehman disappeared down the raveling face of the heights, and he drove Ashby and Quantrell down the road before him, his rifle and eye equally sentient and ready.

“Ashby,” whispered Quantrell, “by hurrying, you may cross the Potomac Bridge before the troops in Maryland seize it. Remember my directions! Go to Bosler’s, in Catoctin Valley. Here is all my money. Let Luther go and buy you.”

“God bless you, mosster!” said the negro, huskily; “I’ll try to git away!”

No sympathetic light was in the man Hazlett’s eyes, and he watched them both with a merciless energy, the greater because he was now wholly self-dependent.

Quantrell remembered the acts of rowdyism he had assisted in toward unarmed and helpless foreigners, and wondered if it was in the remembrance of mercy to save his life. He remembered the contemptuous idea he had entertained of the courage of “Yankees,” whom he had nearly included among the “foreigners,” and asked himself if he dared, even with the negro Ashby’s neutrality, or possible help, to fall upon this hard, self-reliant, unadorned fellow in the rear, and contend with him to the death.

He turned twice, with this thought in his mind, and, steady as a common, regular soldier of the line, Hazlett was looking at him with his eyes, and, Lloyd thought, with his wrists too, so supple were those wrists with weapons and sensibility.

“He is a Western man,” mused our hero; “all of them are Western men. What is this West I have heard so little of in my geography? When did it arise? And is it all for abolition?”

They now had entered the short, closely settled, down-hill portion of the street, where shops, sign-posts, small bay-windows, lower areas and ladders into back yards, upper verandas, mechanics’ stalls, flights of stairs toward precipices, overhanging dormers, flaunting clothes on clothes-lines, and all the accompaniments of a disturbed or suddenly deserted town, closed around them tattered and grimy in the narrow throat of Harper’s Ferry.

Guns and pistols and old blunderbusses began to rattle again in the hollow depths of the place, and the rain drizzled from the spotted sky above. At the foot of the street they saw the dog Albion, barking at a hog that was too familiar with the dead body of Newby, lying there.

No forms were to be seen in the street, but the heads of some men appeared, beneath the stoops or basements of porches, all turned down toward the dead negro and the street which crossed that one Quantrell was descending. The reason for this was plain when, in a moment, two men, like Brown’s followers, stepped out from the arsenal side there and fired up the street.

The men down in the intrenched and recessed basements of the shops returned the fire in another instant.

“This way!” Hazlett called, hoarsely, pointing up the hill to the right.

A scrap of street found lodgment in there, and, going the same way as the High Street, soon left it far below.

In the intensity of the moment Quantrell saw all things in the view — the chimneys, the chickens picking garbage in the street, carts uptilted at the curbs, plastered walls, and stone and brick escarpments on the roofs, uneven pavements of blue limestone, wild children yet without breakfast screaming or sleeping up the tenement halls and alleys; and, finally, the Catholic church at the cornice and ridge of everything, holding its pale golden cross to the moody heavens, and by its side the bell, suspended in a derrick of timber, seemed to be taking a second nap after having called in vain for others to arise.

Again the Shenandoah was seen beyond the mills and islands, cowering as it ran beneath the great gnarled mountain. Again, the mighty, scarred form of Maryland Heights reared back like a beheaded buffalo. The blended rivers, breaking in ripples over gridirons of rock, went down the mountain vistas like fugitive hosts of dead-faced people, flying from the wrath of Nature; or the volcano’s lava-channel in the sheen of the moon.

But in this general awe there was indifference too — the indifference of the great to the little, of the torpid to the quick; the indifference of the basking crocodile to the bees upon his jaws; the inconsiderateness of mountains, after their convulsion, to the writhing of the birds that serpents in their bowels charm; the languor of old geology in its nap of cycles to the newsboy’s darling revolution of some few people slain in riots.

John Brown had made no impression upon the trance of Nature. The hollow ear of heaven bending overhead considered him not — he, nor the perishing insects he had disciplined for another skirmish in the brief antiquity of freedom.

“Ashby, I see the men in Maryland yonder. You have time to cross the bridge — just time, not a moment to spare!”

“Come on, then, and go before!” cried Hazlett, descending the ragged natural steps from the church to the street.

As they crept down these steps, shot rattled in the High Street below, and Quantrell and Ashby hesitated.

“I’ll take a shot,” spoke Hazlett, with a deadly zest for combat in his heavy eyes; and, stepping down, he raised his gun and fired up the street.

“I left my mark that time,” Hazlett said, surveying his work and opening his rifle-breech. “Now for the next slave-catcher!”

He had barely spoken when a ball or wad, or other instrument of percussion, struck his cartridge-box, and it began to explode, like Chinese fire-crackers. One by one the deadly projectiles broke forth, each with its cylinder of lead, and Hazlett sought in vain to throw it away from him, but the belt would not come loose. He danced in a frenzy of endeavor and apprehension, balls tearing his clothes, others whizzing near Quantrell’s head; and the sight was so ludicrous that, as Lloyd threw himself down, he began to laugh till the tears came to his eyes.

“He’s all fired out, I reckon, now,” Ashby exclaimed, as the explosions ceased. “What mus’ I do?”

“Run for the bridge! Tell him to run with you! Remember Crampton’s Gap, the Catoctin Valley, and Jake Bosler’s farm.”

“I’m goin’,” said the negro. “Come, Mr. Hazlett, fo’ yo’ life!”

As Hazlett turned to look at Quantrell, the latter had a rock in his hand.

“I’ll kill you if you come here!” Quantrell cried; “your carbine is empty and your cartridges are all gone. Keep off!”

Hazlett slipped across the street into the lane by the river. In a moment Lloyd saw him appear in the space before the armory-gate, where he hesitated, as if thinking to turn in. The negro Ashby dashed past him and ran toward the bridge.

Being fired upon from the houses and hill-tops, Hazlett affected to be aiming his empty piece, and, stooping down and backing off, he finally disappeared behind the corner at the arsenal, and next was seen upon the bridge, running after Ashby at the top of his speed.

The soldiers on the Maryland shore were very near the bridge, also, and now began to run toward it, firing their pieces.

It was a race for life with Hazlett and his associate.

In another moment Quantrell saw both these men emerge from the distant end of the bridge, and steal along the base of the heights toward Pleasant Valley and the roofs of Sandy Hook.

“I’ve made a banker of a negro, who has every inducement to run away,” Lloyd Quantrell said, “and yet, I don’t believe he will; for, queerly enough, I never heard of a negro committing a breach of trust.”

He peeped around the abutments of rock and houses at the foot of the stone steps.

Some townspeople were huddled beneath a low porch, looking down intently at an object they also sought to raise.

“That may be Hazlett’s victim,” Quantrell thought. “I’ll see.”

He came unarmed with raised hands among them, merely saying “Prisoner,” and looked down at the form of an athletic, bleeding man on the stones of an old stoop or arcade.

“Lay him back, that-a-way, like a ossifer!” said one of the men, rifle in hand, seeking to see both the street-corner and the dead man. “He’s a West-P’inter, an’ they likes to die with their shoulders stiff.”

Stretched out upon the stones of Harper’s Ferry, the first graduate of the United States Military Academy, to perish in the conflict of slavery, lay trembling in the rich red chevron of his heart’s blood.


 

CHAPTER XX.

GAULT HOUSE.

“THREE citizens already killed; that is, two citizens and a nigger,” Quantrell heard remarked, as he slipped across the Shenandoah Street to the railroad there, and, passing behind the arsenal, gained the exposed saloon on the railroad-track, where he had fought the Logans only sixteen hours before.

He now saw a sign over the door of this single-story frame saloon, “Gault House.”

It was a cheap, perishable building, without social position or appearance, and yet, in the inconsistency of time, it remains down to the author’s day, one of the three unimpaired monuments of ruined Harper’s Ferry: these three monuments are the Catholic church on the hill, John Brown’s Engine-House or “Fort” in the desolate armory-yard, and this saloon by the Shenandoah bridge — representatives of the three active principles of our century: Tradition, Revolution, and Alcohol — other words for Faith, Hope, and the Poor-House, or Charity; and now, as of old, the greatest of these is Alcohol or Charity.

“Let me in!” cried Quantrell, and, the door opening, he leaped in, and there was instant darkness.

“Who are you?” said a familiar voice.

“Why, Mr. Beall, I’m Mr. Quantrell, who made your acquaintance last night”; and there arose upon the dark the fine, natural tones of our hero, singing:

“Glenorchy’s proud mountains, Coalchuirn and her towers,
 Glenstrae, and Glenlyon, no longer are ours:
 We’re landless, landless, landless, Grigalach!”

The song brought admiration and low inquiries, “Who is he?” and John Beall vouched for Quantrell’s courage; and when Lloyd told that he had been a prisoner, and what he had seen of Kagi’s band falling, and of Turner’s death but an instant before, all breathlessly listened, and then the back door was thrown open.

It was seen that a narrow and railed veranda ran along the back of the saloon, overhanging the foaming Shenandoah far below, and this veranda almost gave access to the Shenandoah bridge, whose rock abutment adjoined the saloon.

“Mr. Quantrell,” spoke Beall, his face serious to the verge of gloom, “a few of us are holding this place with the greatest caution, because we believe it to be the key of the situation. We keep the front closed and have fired no shot from here because the enemy with his rifles, from the engine-house, can riddle this thin building. We expect to kill him — all that there is left of him — when he retreats across the Potomac bridge. He must pass right in front of this house to get to the bridge, and we want to kill every man he has!”

The suppressed energy of the speaker called Quantrell’s attention.

“Why, John,” he said, “you would pity the poor devils if you had seen them, as I have, falling in the river, lying in the streets, hungry, absurd, misled, weeded out.”

“No,” replied Beall, trembling, “I want to kill every man of them! We’re lying low here, to shoot them down at their last chance! We let one scoundrel pass just now, lest we might draw every rifle in that engine-house upon us and spoil our full revenge, sir.”

“Indeed, you’re a Scotchman, John, and Highlander too, I reckon. But, of course, I’m with you. Where’s William Thompson, the raider who guarded the Shenandoah bridge?”

“Taken. He’s over in the hotel.”

Beall’s eyes smoldered, and his eyebrows and mouth were both drawn straight and hard.

“How did you capture the bridge?”

“From this saloon. We crept upon the guard, an unsuspecting fellow, and getting him fast, sent a detachment across the bridge to kill any who might escape from the Rifle-works.”

Not a smile nor gratulation was in all this; a devout Indian, reciting the fate of the enemies he had doomed for the manes of his father, might have been less intense.

“I saw them die, John. It was a terrible scene.”

“I should like to have witnessed it. But the leader is still yonder!”

He pointed to the engine-house, with a face drawn so hard together from the jaw to the skull, that every feature seemed to be a plain line. Reflective hate lay coldly there, incapable now of other joy.

Quantrell looked at the other occupants of the sinister place — at the saloon-keeper, with long, fox-red beard, who was continually stroking it, and with eyes wide apart.

“Forty drops,” said the saloon-keeper. “Come up!”

He went behind the dusky bar and set the bottle out, and peeped through a hole in the shutter at the engine-house — laying hand, meanwhile, upon the long revolver there, which had been in Lloyd’s custody the night before.

“They’re all caged in the engine-house,” the saloon-man said. “Hello! yonder’s one coming down the yard.”

They peeped successively at the hole, and, when Lloyd’s turn came, he saw in the vista of the armory-yard two men, one with a gun, keeping the other man between him and a party of armed men, who now and then fired a shot, but, seeking not to injure the hostage, they did no execution.

“That’s Lehman!” Quantrell exclaimed. “And, upon my word, the fellow running is Andrew Atzerodt!”

“Here, gentlemen,” the warm-bearded saloon-keeper spoke; “we’ll close the back door, and that will darken the room, so we may see, and be unseen, out of the glass door, by keeping back from the light a little.”

He raised the blind, and they could all see.

The landlord brought out his pistol, which was nearly as long as one of the outlaws’ rifles, and it had a skeleton breech which made it a veritable gun to rest against his shoulder. He rolled the great steel chamber, charged with six slugs like Minié balls, between his thumb and finger, to see if it was true and well oiled.

“I hope there’s a dead man in every cartridge,” he said. “That’s my pious design.”

They all gazed at the boy Lehman, skirmishing with twenty enemies. The balls from the hills and town would tear up the ground around him and cut twigs from the elm and maple trees, and Atzerodt would fall upon the ground till Lehman’s rifle covered him, and then he would start up with wide, imploring arms, only to be paralyzed by the open muzzle of the rifle.

“That boy’s dead game,” the saloon-keeper said; “but our friends are shooting very poor.”

“Lehman don’t want to kill anybody,” Quantrell said. “He can drop a man with every ball, if he wants to.”

They now observed one man at the angle of a building behind Lehman, deliberately aiming at his back. The pistol exploded, but only Atzerodt fell down, and lay like one stone-dead.

Lehman turned upon the man, whose gun was now uncharged, and raised his rifle at him.

The man fell on his knees.

“Now he’ll blow his head right off!” said the saloon-keeper.

As they looked, in the excitement of almost mortal suspense, they saw Lehman knock the pistol out of the man’s hand and disappear behind the same angle of wall from which his assassination had been sought.

Atzerodt jumped up and ran at the top of his speed.

The man whose life had been spared, rose to his feet and quickly reloaded, rammed and capped his pistol, and started in the direction Lehman had gone.

“Forty drops,” said the saloon-keeper. “Come up!”

Every man around the bar had a weapon of some kind, and they drank with the zest of hunters. Beall alone was abstinent and brooding.

“Will this insult upon Virginia ever be wiped off?” he said to Quantrell.

“We entertained your invaders in Maryland,” Quantrell replied; “that must be atoned for.”

All looked carefully at their weapons, like fishermen inspecting their tackle. The splutter of gunnery in the street was continued.

“Gentlemen,” spoke Quantrell, “I want to see the fate of little Lehman, and, by your leave, I’ll make a dash for the railway-station.”

Before there could be objection, he had opened the door and closed it behind him.

A very few steps brought him upon the railroad bridge, and he looked in wonder at the changed scene around him.

Men were everywhere — upon both bridges, on the strands of the rivers, upon both shores opposite, and crowding the railway-station and fringing the hills; and from every safe place guns were shooting at the little engine-house in the armory-yard, which began to show the marks of a bombardment: its doors were ripped and splintered, the trees around it clipped of twigs and stems; and yet it was languidly returning fire from the fresh port-holes and from the partly open doors, where now a man could be seen crouching and another standing.

As Quantrell came to the station and hotel, he heard a voice cry:

“O Heywood, speak! What will yo’ po’ wife say to me. — He’s gone. He’s dead! Now get me a gun. I want a robber’s life!”

Lloyd saw the negro porter lying still, and felt his body, which was already partly cold.

“I know whaw I can find a pistol,” spoke the mayor of the town and station agent; “I’ll git it and return.”

He dashed toward the Gault House saloon, and Quantrell swung down the railway trestle-work to the Potomac strand and crept along that churning river, stooping low. There were men lying flat upon their breasts from point to point, seeking to send a shot into the engine-house, and nearly every trestle-post had thus its revenger.

Running fast, the Baltimorean soon had passed most of the armory buildings, but was arrested by the whizzing of a ball within an inch, as it seemed, of his head.

He glanced across the river, in Maryland, and saw a puff of smoke rising from a place along the lower mountain-side; beneath the smoke was a human form. Quantrell’s eyes were keen, and he made out the person to be his late assailant, little Captain Cook.

If Cook it was, he had a fall in greatness, for shots from Harper’s Ferry hills passed over Quantrell’s head, and the person upon the mountain was seen in another instant to be rolling down the slope and then to lie quite still.

Lloyd’s attention was immediately drawn to a man running from the upper end of the armory-yard right into the brawling and, at places, dangerous Potomac.

From pool to pool, and eddy to eddy, and from rock to rock, this man continued on, rapid, lithe, active, and manifestly meaning to ford the entire river or to perish in it.

The reason was soon manifest: a large body of armed men, in compact order, came across the armory mill-race and fired a volley at the fugitive.

He fell and lost his gun, but in a moment was up again, and he crawled upon a dry rock far out in the river and feebly held up his hands.

Quantrell could see, even then, a cheerful look, like a smile, upon his almost child-like face.

“Lehman!” was Lloyd’s inward recognition; “I’m glad he surrenders — his eyes are so beautiful!”

The firing ceased; but one man was also rapidly wading the river toward Lehman, and something about him seemed familiar.

“Why, that’s the man,” Quantrell inwardly remarked, “whose life Will Lehman saved but a minute ago. It’s natural that he should want to save the poor lad’s life.”

The man went on and did not hesitate, for Lehman continued to show the genial countenance of one submitting to capture, and to spread his hands apart in the hallowed way our common Saviour died.

The man came right upon him but did not grapple with him.

Lehman seemed to speak to him, pleasantly, and Lloyd thought he could see the boy’s large eyes bright with pain and gratitude.

The man suddenly pulled a pistol from his pocket, pointed it at Lehman’s face, so close that he nearly touched it, and fired.

A cry of mixed exultation and horror burst from the soldiers on the shore.

Lehman fell upon the rock helpless, with a great hole in his face.

The man returned the pistol to his garments and drew a knife, and began to cut the skirts and pockets from Lehman’s clothes.

By the stillness of the form upon the rock, Lloyd knew that Death, the invisible vulture, had as instantly alighted there.

The man now waded ashore, bearing papers and other things taken from the dead man.

“Fall in, Martinsburgers!” the command rang out; “we’ll carry the engine-house next!”

They marched down the armory-yard, and Quantrell was left alone.

He also waded into the water and made his way toward Lehman.

The boy lay silent upon the stone, the roaring rapids being his lullaby. His head had fallen backward, and his hairs were toyed with by the cool waters.

“Will, look up! I’m your friend!”

The late tired legs of Lehman, which had walked all night and day upon a willful yet immortal errand — crossing the river to and from the farm three times in one night and morning — clasped the stone in the rigid manner of one who meant to hold fast and to bear testimony.

How solemn, how awful, seemed the sighing waters to Quantrell, waist-deep in them! No noise besides filled the air. It was as lonely as being drowned, to stand alone beside this uncomplaining man.

Quantrell bent over the rock, but only once.

What he saw there was too horrible for him ever to repeat.

Steadying himself upon the stone, Lloyd saved himself from swooning, though sick to the temples. He dipped his head into the waters, but, when he lifted it, some of Lehman’s blood in the water fell down upon his hands.

“He asked me to sing, ‘somewheres down among the bushes and rocks,’ the words of ‘Sweet Home.’ I’ll do it among the waters and rocks, for it will be his only Christian burial.”

Quantrell raised his voice and sang:

“Home, home, sweet home!
 There’s no place like home —
 There’s no place like home.”

“Poor lad!” he finished, “there’s no home for him now but where he ‘calculated’ it was ever sunny.”

With a tear in his eye, Quantrell turned to the shore, and when he gained it he looked back once, and Lehman lay there still, like one of nature’s bowlders rolled in the deluges of time.

As Lloyd picked his way down the armory-yard he marked the powerful water accompanying the long line of shops, conducted behind them in a stone canal and, after driving wheels and cogs, grindstones and automatic turning-lathes, drills and trip-hammers, the mill-water then gushed beneath the ground, in arched places, to be used in a second line of shops, and then to fall back into the Potomac.

Here a gun-stock had fallen to perfection every eight seconds; every day of earnest labor manufactured sixty muskets; the doing of death was the soulful motive of the town; but to-day it was all distraught that barely two of its white men had been killed with arms in their hands.

As he drew near the little engine-house, our hero dropped behind the office-buildings just west of it; a lull had taken place in the firing, for the grimy operatives from the railway-shops of Martinsburg were to charge John Brown’s little fort.

Quantrell saw them deployed to assail the nearest, or watch-house end, on three sides at once.

A man was slinking out of the column, and Quantrell recognized him.

“Contemptible assassin! Give me your gun.”

It was the man whose life Lehman had saved, and who had returned the gift with death.

There was something queer about the gun he had wrested from the man; it came open at the breech, as if there was a hinge in the barrel.

“Pooh!” exclaimed Quantrell, “this is one of Hall’s Harper Ferry rifles, a Yankee invention, thrown out by the regular army board.”

He threw the gun down, yet lived to see the day when the “breech was more honored than the observance” of military boards; for by a similar needle-gun the winding-sheet of Napoleonism came to be sewed by Germany. America fought her great civil war loading muskets at the muzzle, when she could have been foremost of the nations with a Yankee breech-loader, thrown out of Harper’s Ferry by military bigotry, twenty years before.

In the quick revulsions of a day of action and hunger, intemperance and fear, mystery and passion, Lloyd Quantrell had ripped a plank out of the porch of a small building labeled “Superintendent’s Office,” and crying, “Come on!” he dashed among the foremost of the militia, from whom a mighty yell went up.

To the yell the response was the throwing open of the engine-house doors.

Half a dozen boyish men, with John Brown at their head, stepped upon the sward and poured a little volley into these hundred herculean militia.

Among the defenders Quantrell could see the ashen face of Watson Brown, rallying up from death and standing by his rifle. His father waved the sword of King Frederick and called “Fire!”

It was but a minute that this startling picture of a handful of farm-boys, directed by an old man’s face in which was the very delight of battle, lasted upon the afternoon. The militia, after a broken fire, dispersed with groans and curses; and some, in the frenzy of fear, leaped the high brick wall behind the block-house, astonished at their own feat of strength.

As the defenders retired, they dragged one boyish form back with them, which had settled down upon its hands, as if the ligaments of the tough limbs had all at once given way: the face, of unspeakable emotion, was that of young Oliver Brown; he looked like one caught by some reptile and bitten in twain, while he was yet rejoicing.

Quantrell pushed in the round-topped windows of the watch-room end of the engine-house, with the plank he carried, and forced the plank over the window-frames.

“Break out!” he shouted, raising himself by the wrists to the window-level; “they won’t fire on you!”

He also leaped over the tall brick wall and fell into the River Street, exhausted.

In a few minutes the released prisoners from the watch-house also came up.

“Where’s Washington, and Alstadt, and — ole Ball?” Quantrell asked.

“Why, ole Isaac Smith — he picked all them big fish out half a hour ago and tuk ’em in the engine-house part. ‘I want you,’ he says. ‘And you! And you!’ He’s got nine or ten, I reckon, in thar, yit.”

Lloyd returned to the Gault House saloon around the arsenal wall, and at the alley there lay the dead Newby still, staring at eternity.

A strange quiet had fallen upon the town since the determined action of the bandits and their easy defeat of the burly Martinsburgers — several of whom had received wounds; a quiet partly induced, too, by the cold-blooded slaying of Lehman, which few had seen without compassion and awe. There were none in the streets but the dead, and all private attempts to storm John Brown’s fort ceased from that time forward.

Entering the Gault House, a man escaping from the interior fell in the dark into Quantrell’s arms.

“Let me go!” the stranger cried; “I’ve lost my poor black ward. I’ll have a life for Heywood!”

The door closed upon him, and Quantrell breathlessly asked for liquor.

“Forty drops!” said the saloon-keeper. “Come up!”

It was now that Beall, the young Virginian, shook off a portion of his hard demeanor and commenced to ask Lloyd the particulars about Smith’s or Brown’s band: it seemed to have a charmed interest for him, less to appease his indignation than to awaken a latent thirst he betrayed for individual feats of danger, and to concentrate his mind upon the chief enemies of his State and neighborhood.

“Tell me, sir, as nearly as you can, who are the leaders in this foray. We must be sure to kill the right ones; the residue will do for the gallows.”

“Next to Isaac Smith,” replied Lloyd, “who calls himself Brown, was Kagi, who lies dead up the Shenandoah; but the best soldier of them all is the third in command, Captain Stevens.”

“We’ll mark him!” muttered Beall. “What is that coming yonder?”

They looked through the window, keeping well back in the dark, and saw four men coming out of the armory-gate; two of these were unarmed, and one hoisted a white cloth attached to a stick.

“That’s Kitz,” said one of the voices in the dark; “t’other’s a citizen. It seems to be a flag of truce.”

“I know the men behind,” Quantrell added — “the two with rifles; the boyish figure is Ned Coppock. He’s a handsome fellow, and good-natured. The stoutish, manly fellow is Aaron Stevens. He’s a lion.”

“Get your gun,” Beall said. “The time’s come for it!”

“All steady, now,” remarked the saloon-keeper; “no one must speak. I want to let him have every ball.”

He raised the skeleton-breeched revolver to his shoulder and took aim, the rest standing silently in the rear.

Right on walked the four men, the two hostages covering the two raiders in front, until they came abreast of the hotel beneath the station, when, at a word from Stevens, the hostages stepped upon the flanks, thus opening to the saloon-keeper’s revolver the bodies of Stevens and Coppock.

Quantrell, in spite of his late vow of “Death to abolitionists!” felt that he would give the world to cry out and plead: “It is a flag of mercy. Do not kill them!”

Proud of bearing, full-bearded, his brown eyes keen but independent, his military shoulders carried erect without effort or stiffness, his dark-brown hair adding to the warmth of his bright skin and red, youthful lips, Stevens had his gun across his shoulder; he kept his eyes upon the bridge before him, and walked on as confidently as a regular soldier upon parade.

None in the saloon looked at any other person; this man was so strong, superior, and chieftain-like that the light of human eyes shone only upon him and seemed to glaze him into a Rembrandtish brightness and halo, and they could almost hear his broad lungs breathe.

The great pistol went off — once, twice, thrice! Quantrell shut his eyes.

Once, twice, thrice again, it spoke metallic decision, and with that regularity and interval of sound which showed the perfect nerve, deliberation, and aim of the firer.

The saloon was full of sulphur-smell, but of little smoke.

Quantrell opened his eyes.

There lay on the ground, a few paces from the door, an effigy or broken stalk of man, nothing of it moving but the broad chest, and that with a snarling, convulsive sound and struggle.

The hostages were not to be seen. Coppock was entering the armory-gate, and there a little band of the raiders poured out from the engine-house, and he and they fired with spirit, but only to draw upon themselves a roaring volley from near the bridge, like that of soldiery.

“Forty drops.” said the saloon-keeper, wiping his piece with a yellow silk handkerchief. “Come up.”

Amid exclamations of “Glorious!” “Grand!” and the sucking of liquids and the shaking of hands, Lloyd Quantrell opened the door and, despite the glancing of bullets over railroad-iron and street-gravel, he fell upon his hands and knees and crawled toward the prostrate form.

He saw in an instant what errand Stevens had walked forth upon. The Potomac bridge was full of soldiery just come from Maryland, and to these Stevens must have been sent with a proposition of surrender or truce, when the unrespecting assassin had emptied a revolver into his living frame.

“Now some other citizen will surely be killed,” Quantrell reflected, “not only to avenge this dead comrade, but the raiders will kill to protect themselves from massacre. I reckon their blood is up.”

A sound came from the large form stretched upon the ground.

“If you are a man and I am but a dog, come to me!”

There was in this sound something of involuntary woe, like mortal agony soliloquizing to its pain, or the “loud voice about the ninth hour” on Calvary, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

A woman from the hotel ran toward the prostrate man, careless of danger in the strong impulse of her pity, and Quantrell also rose to his feet.

They lifted the body up; it was limp, and had nothing whole to stand upon — shot in the members, the trunk, the head, and having received, like a target from a practiced hand, every ball where the marksman thought fit to deliver it.

“Save him!” screamed the woman; “he belongs to some home, maybe.”

Quantrell raised the body to his shoulder and slung it there like a dead deer; and stalked away with it to the hotel where he had slept.

“Kill him! Drown him! Tear him to pieces!” yelled many voices, in the safe hiding of the station.

“Curs!” exclaimed Quantrell, facing them once, “go yonder and kill at the engine-house, where you are fifty to one!”

As he entered a room in the hotel where he was directed, another man came forward and said, cheerfully:

“Aaron, do you know me?”

“Good-by, Thompson!” sighed the bleeding form.

“You are not going to die, Aaron?”

“Not me,” Stevens muttered. “Oh, no! Good-by to you!

“Who tells you that, Aaron?”

“Spirits,” whispered the man, swooning away.

The room filled up with drunken, excited, or cowardly individuals, uttering imprecations, insulting William Thompson, the prisoner, and threatening to throw the body of Stevens out of the window. Quantrell picked out a little guard of weak but better-meaning men, and by a doctor’s aid cleared the room.

“Thompson,” he, said, after this exertion, “what labor you have taken to make all this misery!”

“I didn’t come, Mr. Quantrell, on any picnic. You and me will only die once. I’m just as ready to die for man now as I was yesterday.”

“Don’t you want to live?”

“Of course. Life never was as sweet to me as it is at this minute, because it’s so uncertain now. But I brought my life along and put it in the cause; and, if it’s wanted, I’ll give it to Liberty.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Quantrell. “Liberty to slaves, not one of whom has had the courage to fight for his own salvation!”

“No nonsense, Mr. Quantrell, to the many millions more still to be born, and to look back, perhaps, to this day’s sorrows for their deliverance. Women don’t fight for their freedom, neither, but still have men gone to women’s rescue. It was because slaves didn’t fight that we came to fight for them.”

The door here burst open, and a young man entered with a gun. He looked around an instant, and approached the helpless man upon the bed.

“Villain!” he suddenly cried, “you’ve killed my kinsman, and I’m going to kill you this minute!”

Before any person could interfere, he had pulled the trigger, with the muzzle of the gun at Stevens’s throat.

The lock fell, but the cap did not explode.

Stevens had been stripped naked, for the doctor to dress his wounds. As Quantrell sprang forward, he observed the fine hazel eyes of Stevens to be wide open, and gazing with a most undaunted calmness into the assassin’s face.

The other man blanched before that unshaken fortitude and almost eloquent contempt. Well he might have been alarmed, also, at the wounded man’s athletic breast, solid arms, great shoulders, and Apollo-like strength in everything; his white body flawless except where torn by lead, and his soul reinhabiting that mangled frame, like an eagle returned suddenly to its nest.

“If I had a gun and could get off this bed,” said Stevens, without an inflection, “you, and ten more like you, would jump out of that window!”

Quantrell sprang upon the intruder, who had already retreated before Stevens’s steady gaze, and Lloyd put the door behind him.

“You’re a great man, Stevens,” Lloyd Quantrell said, looking down at the hero in admiration. “What made you wake just at that minute of danger?”

“My guardian angel,” Stevens sighed, and closed his eyes in slumber again.

Quantrell locked the door and stretched himself upon the floor within it, and also slumbered a little while. He went to sleep, and he awoke to the continual spluttering explosions of fire-arms.

As he was relieved by other persons of the watch in this prisoner’s place, he stepped out to the railroad platform in time to see an old, stout man peep around the water-tank, desperate to have a shot at the people in the engine-house.

The moment this man peeped, there came a sound of wood ripped by a ball.

“Tey’ve hit te tank!” exclaimed the voice of Atzerodt, at Quantrell’s elbow.

“They’ve hit the man, too,” Quantrell said; for he had seen the large form of the old gentleman pitch forward and fall upon his head, and there lie motionless upon the planks of the platform he so long commanded.

People dragged the old gentleman back by the legs and laid him beside his negro servant, stone-dead; black and white man, loving each other in life, in death had not long been divided.

“The Mayor of Harper’s Ferry,” thought Quantrell, “pays for the violation of the flag of armistice. I believe Ned Coppock fired that shot for Captain Stevens.”

It was now the middle of the afternoon, and whisky had done its work on many an empty stomach, while combat had made courageous men fierce, and cowardly men bloodthirsty.

A cry arose. “Kill that prisoner! Fountain Beckham’s dead!”

If the utterer of this instigation had desired, in the same breath, to call it back, he would have been too late.

The dead mayor had been of a large family connection, and his cousins and nephews heard the cry of “revenge,” in Virginia natures, where Scotch and pioneer traits and traditions lay ever near the passion for private feud and retaliation.

The hotel quickly filled up with young men who had not dared to expose their bodies, like the late rash and loving old man. The woman who had befriended Stevens threw herself before young William Thompson’s body, and begged his life in vain. He was pushed and dragged toward the railway platform, and, for every hand which impelled him onward, another held a pistol to kill him. Voices derided him; and other voices raised the yell of battle, thousands of times repeated in after-years among these “blue-ridged hills.”

“To the bridge! To the bridge with him! Kill him! Kill him!”

Lloyd Quantrell saw his pointer-dog leap joyfully among the murderers and bark with all his venom, and show his yellow eyes, and shake the flies from his blood-clotted ear. Lloyd saw the dirty visage of Atzerodt, crazed with the liquor his blood-money had procured, waving his fluttering hands and full of white-livered zeal, and heard him shout:

“Hang him! Hang him to te bridge!”

The crowd swayed and reeled forward, and the woman threw herself in its path only to be pulled aside. Toward the Potomac bridge it went, and skirmisher’s before it, and stragglers behind, were seen to be picking the locks of rusty fire-arms, and trying flints and percussion-caps, in all the ardor for human prey. The black birds at the chimneys of Loudoun Mountain circled there, indifferent to the carcass that was being prepared for them by mankind.

Lloyd Quantrell determined to labor for that man’s life. He caught a glimpse of Mr. Beall at the outskirts of the mob and called to him:

“Let us save his life for the law — and for shame!”

Beall shook his head, and muttered, with skull and chin pinched together at the thin lips:

“No, sir. He has dishonored Virginia!”

There were, however, some plaintive old Germanic faces there, ready to kindle to compassion when Quantrell raised the cry:

“Give him a chance! Don’t murder him, gentlemen! Don’t let us disgrace Virginia!”

“To hell mit him!” cried Atzerodt. “He kilt a good man.”

“Revenge for Fountain Beckham!”

“Revenge for George Turner!”

“Revenge for Tom Boerly!”

These victims’ names arose like tongues of fire amid the tiny streams of pity.

“Give him a trial!” shouted Quantrell. “You do not know who he is. His blood may splash you all.”

“Oh, yes, take time!” said a tall old man. “The law will stretch his neck.”

“Don’t kill him here,” cried the woman’s voice; “the court will try him soon enough!”

William Thompson had not spoken; his face was pale but with manly submission in it, and yet the love of life rose to his temples in a great fervor, once or twice.

A man pointed a gun at him; Thompson put his arms around the man and held him close to his breast and spoke across his shoulder in the partial silence of the hard-breathing murderers:

“Let me say a word. Then kill me if you ought to! My blood will never put out the fire started here to-day. A thousand lives like mine won’t do it — no, not a hundred thousand! Murder won’t count in favor of sin. Let all your slaves go free! That’s all we ask. It’s cheaper in the end!”

“Down with the abolitionist!”

“Kill the blasphemer!”

“Shoot the vile fanatic!”

They tried to tear him fast from any other man. Severed from one, he grappled to himself another, in the piteous search for some one feeling breast. He spoke no more, except to cling to living frames and cover his own with living hearts. The contest drew tears from some, and others closed their eyes.

Finally, several men seized him by pinioning his arms, And then with their united power hurled him from them.

Half a dozen guns went off. He tottered and fell upon one hand. More guns were discharged.

“Father!” he cried, looking toward the engine-house, which was concealed by the hotel-building.

They fired upon him again and again.

His eyes, in pain of death, without a friend to call to, fell upon Lloyd Quantrell:

“Mr. Quantrell! Brother!”

“Drop! drop into the river!” Quantrell shouted, and pointed to the cool water below.

The dying man tottered to the edge of the planks and slipped through the hollow places there and fell into the roaring Potomac current.

“I’ll carry the white flag this time!” Quantrell said. “Nobody can save him but John Brown!”

He raised his hat upon a rod and walked straight into the armory-gate and disappeared in the engine-house.

William Thompson floated down the current a little way and lodged against some stones.

A discharge of fire-arms from the bridge stilled his hopes and pains forever.

All the rest of the afternoon his body was used for a target-match between the gunners, shooting from the bridge.


 

CHAPTER XXI.

ABEL QUANTRELL.

MONDAY morning, at Jake Bosler’s farm, found corn-shucking and fruit-drying, pickling and stewing sweets, the deep occupation of the women, of whom there were three, since Hannah Ritner had come over from Smoketown, uninvited, at an early hour, driven by Job Snowberger, the Baptist monk, whose Kloster (convent) name was Father Philodulus.

Job had grown up in the nunnery at Snow Hill, just over in Pennsylvania, and was nearly the last of the Monks of Seventh Day. He worked in the fields with threefold energy of Sundays, but his Saturdays were deeply religious ruminations, varied by the singing of Beissel’s Ephrata music, of which he was believed to be the last living renderer.

To look at, Philodulus was a long, thin man with little peeping eyes, and one side of his baggy face seemed cunning and blushing, and the other side mystic and austere. He called Hannah Ritner “Shweshter (sister) Marcella,” and paid great deference to her, while that large, considerate lady called him, according to her passing vein, “Job,” “Job Snow,” and “Philodulus.”

At the sound of “Job!” uttered with Hannah Ritner’s full decision, the hermit celibate would start up like a soldier to his arms; at the practical address of “Job Snow,” he would look wise and reproved; when Hannah called him “Bruder (brother) Philodulus,” blushes came to his froggy, loose skin, and he seemed about to fall upon his knees.

Job, the monk, was now sorely tempted, for Nelly Harbaugh, with mischief hardly delicate, had planted herself on one side of him and had pushed him back against the wall, while Katy Bosler was on Job’s other flank, and the kitchen dresser kept her from moving farther, and just in front of Philodulus was a wash-tub into which they all were peeling fruit, and across the wash-tub from Job, holding him fast, was Hannah Ritner with her great Jewish eyes.

“Bruder,” exclaimed Nelly Harbaugh, summoning Job’s attention by hitting him with her knee, and then leaning over and taking his thin, furzy beard in her hand, “would you take me into the Siebentager and let me be your own little nun?”

“Nay, unfershamed, barefaced! you would possess the whole kloster soon.”

The mystic and austere side of Job’s face was, nevertheless, trembling a little, and he leaned toward Katy Bosler’s large, modest eyes, and then the cunning and blushing side grew all dimpled as he piped in his high, falsetto voice:

“Sister Kate, you would not ask me that?”

Katy, full of laughter, cried:

“Oh, you would not invite me! I’m too little.”

Unshuldich,” breathed the old bachelor, “sweet innocent, I do.”

“Job Snow!” Hannah Ritner spoke, with recalling common sense.

“There is a difference,” the brother said, throwing away the apple and dropping the apple-peeling in the tub; “te invitation of Nelly is to mock me. Unshicklich!” (Nelly had taken his hand with well-feigned rapture.) “I turn to Katy for to git purity. Te world will take advantage of so much goodness, and in our quiet convent we live like Him of old — like Yasus.”

“Philodulus,” Hannah Ritner spoke in her low, great voice, “when our sex is old and poor, then invite them to your rest; but the world would misunderstand young converts, like these maidens, appearing at Snow Hill.”

“Nay, Sister Marcella, te first of te Vorsteher Beissel’s tisciples was two married women, and one of those, Maria Sower, was very beautiful. It was her beauty he resisted with all his prayers, but half his psalms her beauty was te music of.”

“Sing to my eyes, Job!” Nelly Harbaugh entreated. — “Hannah, he daresn’t look at me without blushing.”

“Oh, sing to my love!” Katy involuntarily added, “and I will play, Job, on te accordion.”

“That is gone, Kate,” said Nelly Harbaugh; “you’ve given all your music away.”

“Nay,” Job Snowberger said, “I’ll sing for Katy te mourning-dove piece py Friedsam, when his soul was at peace, and love plagued it no more.”

“Philodulus,” Hannah Ritner sighed, “love plagues to the last. Often, in my girlhood, have I seen the Dunker nuns, at Ephrata and Snow Hill, carrying a lamb to which they gave the name of ‘Yasus,’ and dandled it upon their knees — it was the substitute for Nature’s human babe, and they professed to be in a mystical union with its divine namesake. But while the women at the nunnery played the mother with these substitutes till themselves grew old and withered, how many of the monks fell away from grace and married, long after domestic happiness had passed its day!”

“I am te last,” said Job Snowberger, “and I will persewere.”

“Pure, good man! Kiss him, Katy, and encourage him to persewere.”

Nelly Harbaugh, speaking, grasped Job Snowberger’s head in both her strong hands, and kissed him down upon Katy, who sat imprisoned there; and she, seeing no escape, and somewhat in the mischief of the moment, also gave the monk of fifty-five a little timid kiss.

He looked from one to the other in rapid changes of austerity and weakness.

Unshicklich — improper one!” he spoke to Nelly Harbaugh; and then, turning to Katy, his face melted in all its harsher lines as he gave back her kiss and piped high, “Unshuldich!” — the innocent.

“Job!” spoke Hannah Ritner.

He looked at her, thus in Saint Anthony’s temptation, and burst into tears.

Katy was frightened. Nelly was studying Philodulus, the monk, with joyful analysis.

“My children,” Hannah Ritner said, looking with tender humor on the scene, “whichever way you go with Love, or go without him, he makes you cry. His pleasantest mood is spring, with little showers of tears. His summer zest is thunderstorm among these mountains. If Love deserts you, it is winter and frozen tears. But if he never comes at all, you cry, you know not why.”

She looked at the poor man and gave him some cider to drink, fresh from the press.

“Brother Philodulus, swallow your tears, as they drop into the cider; for they will come up many times again, and, after all, the tears of love are sweet — even those we shed to reject love.”

He sat down at her counsel, and behaved like a little boy, doing whatever was requested of him; and while they continued to peel apples, pears, and quinces, a sound came in at the window —

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!”

“It is te doves,” Katy said. “It’s most time, I think, for tem to go South. Tey are waiting for te young ones to pe smart enough to fly. Tey puilt te nest last April. Come see it, Job.”

Job Snowberger’s hand Katy confidingly took in hers, and led him out to a low apple-tree nearly touching the house.

Upon a crotch of this tree, lower than their heads, sat, in an humble nest of dry grasses, two brown young doves. Above them, on the same bough, sat, side by side, the parent birds, unfluttered by visitors, and in brown and chestnut plumage and slate-colored crowns, cooing together.

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!”

The little family had no brilliant marks upon them except a patch of bare pink skin under their chestnut-colored eyes, and toes of brownish red clinging to the boughs. A little purple warmed their breasts, which beat like Katy’s little form beneath her brown gown.

“Ah,-coo-roo-coo-roo!” murmured both the old doves and the young ones, also, as Katy came near.

“Tey are full of love, Job,” Katy said; “tey will fly down among te chickens and eat, and drink out of te trough py te horses. Tey are shy, but not suspicious. Two eggs is all te she-bird lays, and she hatches out of tem always a he-bird and a she:”

“What for?” Job Snowberger asked, with his austere side aggressive, after his late display of weakness.

“Job!” said Katy, “why, you know — to love one another!”

Job’s half-shut eyes looked down at Katy with an idiotic smile as he murmured, half harshly:

Unshuldich!

“Oh no, Job. I’m not ‘innocent’ like I was yisterday; I’m in love, too.”

Unshicklich, Katy!”

“No, indeed. It can’t be ‘improper’ if it comes like religion, dear Job. That’s te way mine come to me.”

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo,” assented the she-dove from the tree, and sidling down the bough toward Katy.

“Te she-dove never trifles with another he-bird,” Katy said, “like so many other kinds of birds. I’ve set and watched those, ever since te 15th of April, when tey come here from te South. He’s all attention to her, too, and cares for no bird else.”

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!” emphatically, from the tree, as the male bird trailed his wings, and puffed his breast up large, and paraded before his lady, and then fed her from his own bill.

Unshicklich!,” improper, intimated Brother Philodulus, with a feminine turn of his head. “Katy, I can do something tender, too. I can sing the turtle-dove psalm.”

“Do, Job! My mate has taken my music with him, or I would help you a little.”

Job Snowberger, with a straightening of his lean figure and an expression between ecstasy and childishness, piped in the German tongue a little psalm we may translate together:

SEVENTH-DAY DUNKER HYMN.

“Coo-roo,” the turtle-dove complains,
   Whose spouse comes never near,
And leaves her, with a mother’s pains,
  Un-nested all the year:
“Coo-roo-ah-coo,” the birdling true
   Doth with itself condole —
So does the dove of Yasus coo
   In every lonely soul.

“Coo-roo,” the stricken monk or nun
   Within the kloster sighs,
By human sin or love undone,
   And hid from human eyes:
“Coo-roo-ah-coo!” that mate untrue
   Still fills dear Yasus’ place,
And you can hear the turtle coo
   In her despairing face.

“Coo-roo,” beside Ephrata’s brooks
   And in Antietam’s vale,
Comes in between the martyr-books
   The tender human tale:
“Coo-roo,” to Peter Miller, too,
   To Beissel and to all —
The turtle-dove so soft will coo,
   It seems like Yasus’ call!

“Coo-roo!” in vain we fly from Love,
   And world and flesh attack,
In vain we kill the human dove
   And set the Sabbath back;
“Coo-roo-ah-coo!” Love will undo
   The washing white of springs,
And only Yasus never knew
   How strong the turtle sings.

“Coo-roo!” in Zion’s wooden house,
   In Kedar’s shingled cells,
Softer than lowing of the cows
   The note of passion wells.
“Coo-roo-ah-coo!” like wood unto
   Whereon was Yasus bound,
Our prison seems; and every coo
   Tears wide a bleeding wound.

“Coo-roo!” sing, more celestial Dove,
   In notes aye pure and clear,
To drown this strong, terrestrial love
   And help us persevere!
“Coo-roo-ah-coo!” dear Yasus, who
   No frailty turned aside,
Thy Dove set in the himmel blue,
   And keep our Church thy bride!

Job Snowberger’s singing had method in it, and caused himself to weep. Katy saw him standing there in his coarse, home-woven and home-dyed clothes, sewn together by the hands of women who had no deeper interest in man than as a fellow-laborer, and she took her needle and pieced him together, saying —

“Dear Job, you have got nobody to love you.”

Unshicklich!” exploded Philodulus, referring to the needle-work, and then, raising his bashful eyes to Katy’s face, he qualified the remark to “Unshuldich.”

“Nobody will love me,” Job exclaimed, “but Sister Marcella, and she only loves me to send me on arrands. I’m only one of her niggers, and she has many of tem. Katy, can’t you jine the kloster and help me persewere?”

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!” The doves had sidled together in the apple-tree.

“Why, dear Job, I am in love already. I am engaged to a young man. See, his mother’s ring is on my finger! And he has took my accordion. Oh, I am so happy!”

Unshicklich! Unshuldich, too! No good will come of it, schwester Kate! Oh, come and jine the good Siebentager and help me persewere!”

Job had already burst open his late repairs; for, indeed, his clothes were too small for him, and his emotions had the effect of wind in the laden apple-trees, bringing all their ripeness to the ground. He threw his arms around Katy, and, in ecstasy of groans and tears, piped high:

“Oh, can’t we persewere together, Katy! It is so hard to persewere alone. I can’t remember nothing: the music-writin’ gits blotted; the saw-mill runs wrong; the fullin’-mill wants ile, the cider-press tastes of rotten apples. Come, come, schwester, to Schneeberg and te heilich life!”

“Ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!” very firmly, from the dove family in the tree.

“Don’t kiss me so hard, Job!” Katy cried, fighting in vain against the tall man’s impassioned caresses. “It’s real unshicklich in you, for I’m going to marry another man.”

“Oh, who is it? He must be some sinful one.”

“No, indeed, Job; it’s a Mr. Quantrell!”

“Hallo!” spoke a strange voice. “How do you know me, indeed? — And what rummaging are you engaged at, Snowberger? Fine hypocrite, you!”

“Persewerin’,” Philodulus said, sheepishly; “we was persewerin’ together.”

“No doubt,” said a strange lame man, standing before them; “persewering and perspiring, too! — Young woman, you’re in a fair way to become a convert, unless your people look more carefully after you!”

“Who is it?” Katy spoke; “I do not understand.”

“You ought to know me. You have just mentioned my name. I am Abel Quantrell, of Baltimore. And where is Hannah Ritner?”

“Here, master!” spoke an eloquent voice at the window; “I heard you were coming, and had you directed to this friend’s retired farm; for I was all alone at Smoketown, and the time was full of portents. O master, if I ever needed help and a strong hand to lean upon, it is to-day!”

“Sho! Sho! Ninon, I see you are nervous to-day. Cube yourself! The root is the soul. Cube yourself! Some unusually Quixotic undertaking, perhaps? O child, I feel for you — extracting the cube-root of all this wrong, without the help of man!”

“Be tender with me, master. Oh, come and counsel me! The time is so short; the mountains are so dark; I can not read beyond them. I am so lonely!”

He led her toward the dairy, near the creek, and on the grass they talked together until Nelly Harbaugh took out chairs for them, and then they talked still on, till Luther came in, at dinner, hearing the sounding of the bell, and put up the strange gentleman’s horse and buggy.

Mr. Abel Quantrell came in to dine, and looked at Katy and at Nelly with a sort of sardonic admiration. At Nelly he looked with bold favor; at Katy with no more interest than as at a hoyden child he had found in an old man’s arms.

Katy was afraid of this strange man, and some great distress seemed overhanging in his wonderful appearance here, the very day after her lover had come and gone. She was too unworldly and ignorant to understand that she had been guilty of any error, or to know how to extricate herself, and be recommended in his eyes.

“I will leave it to God,” said Katy, inwardly. “He must know what to do with me.”

Nelly Harbaugh was soon in a running skirmish of merry and satirical talk with Abel Quantrell.

He was a man not to be forgotten nor confounded with any other, and even the splendid carriage of Hannah Ritner seemed to lose its superiority under Abel Quantrell’s plain but strong address and countenance.

In the first place, he was a deformed man: one of his legs was shorter than the other, or the foot was clubbed; for he walked by the aid of a cane, without labor or any look of pain, and with a certain enforced erectness which had imparted a spirit of will, or defiance, or triumph, to the carriage of his head, the swell of his nostrils, the firm parallels of his eyebrows and lips, and even to the poise of a dark wig, younger in tone than the lights in his eyes, which were faded, spite of their fateful and inflexible cast.

His face was all shaved clean; a standing collar barely showed the gray hairs brushed beneath his throat upon the parchment-colored sinews there. At times, unconsciously, or from habit, he thrust his hand into the clean, starched, simple bosom of his shirt, and then he seemed, to those observing him, like one whose back was against a wall.

But for his lameness he would have been a man above the usual stature, and at this table he was easily the chief, as if a magistrate had come in, but not to depress anybody’s spirits. His face was without any ruddy color, and the black wig gave it a certain pallor as if he were older than he seemed.

No Christian resignation was in Abel Quantrell’s portrait — rather the heathen philosopher’s stoic will and coolness. In repose, he seemed an orator with something in his bosom to defend, and covered there by his pallid hand; out of repose, his face assumed a certain earthiness and self-love, sometimes to the degree of coarseness, and this may have been why Nelly Harbaugh soonest grew upon easy terms with him and drew from him some particulars of his career.

“You seem at home among us Swiss and Dutch, and find your way about like an old nochber?

Yaw, yung maidle,” Abel Quantrell said, “I came among the old Dutch before your mother had a beau. I was the square root extracted from a small New England family of thirteen — the oldest, my little mother — and as I had kept them poor to send me to college, I needs must feed them all. ‘Cube yourself, Abel,’ said I; ‘a few years at school-teaching will make you a lawyer, and then you can educate your little brothers and sisters, and set them on the way to love and independence.’ Sho, sho! The Scotch-Irish bar, at the town where I taught their college, passed a rule, especially for me, that no school-teacher could enter at the law. They knew I was too poor to sit with my legs out of a lawyer’s window studying for two years, and let my mother starve!”

“What did you do, sir?” Luther Bosler asked, sitting, like his father, at the table in his shirt-sleeves.

“I merely cubed the radius,” Abel Quantrell said, with a firmer grip of his upper lip upon the lip below — that lip which seemed beaked, while his nose was straight as an index-board. “I rode over into Maryland and sat up with the bar of the nearest county there, judge and all, and played a good hand at cards, and staked my quarter’s salary. They asked me a sleepy question or two at daylight and passed me into the law. So I extracted the square root of Pennsylvania smallness and moved my habitation to another Dutch county.”

“Te Dunkers do not go to law,” ventured Katy Bosler.

“Bi’m-by,” Jake Bosler ejaculated, fearing that they had already leanings that way.

“No, bright eyes! And that was what took the square root out of my triumph. I could get love in too generous measure, but business never came. Here sits a pupil of mine: let Ninon tell the rest.”

He turned to Hannah Ritner. She swept his pallid and volcano-scarred face with eyes of woe and pride, and answered:

“Master, you found your only client, after waiting long — in a murderer. He had taken a human life, but by his crime you and your mother’s brood found food. His case was so bad that they gave him to you to defend him, in mockery of your hard condition, for you received not one penny for your toil.”

“Sho, sho!” from Abel Quantrell; “I cubed myself, though.”

“The eloquence of genius in the occasion of despair burst from you like a torrent. The murderer became, in your impetuosity, your only friend. His dark and stony nature poured forth the springs of fervent tears. The judge sat trembling, your rivals were astonished and abashed. All German-derived people, after that, went to you with their suits and cases, and found you just as God. You left us, then, for greater fields of use, and, by prosperity, you fell to be a man!”

“Nothin’ but persewerin’,” from the old-maidish face of Job Snowberger, with his sheepish and insinuating side still set on Katy.

“Job Snow,” Hannah Ritner commanded, “be more respectful to my dear master!”

“Bi’m-by,” meaninglessly from Jake Bosler, who executed the parental feat of throwing some corn “slappers” with his fingers into Katy’s plate, a yard distant.

Only Nelly Harbaugh seemed to blush at this homely method of serving food.

“Teacher,” Nelly said to Abel Quantrell, “which is best to live for — affection or greatness?”

“I have had all my happiness in career,” replied the old man, with his pallid hand in his bosom, laid firmly on his heart. His eyes, ranging around the table, rested with some kindling embers of power upon Luther Bosler. “My career, for a quarter of a century, was to fight Power. Sometimes I fought it when it was rightful power — not often. For power, as I found it in my exile in these Middle States, was the power of old sociability, of cliques and lodges, of amiable ignorance and deadly prejudice resisting innovation. This dull majority had sat upon my heel; I turned and bruised its head.”

“Soon-down, Luter. Bi’m-by!” from Jake Bosler, toward his son, glancing at the half-plowed fields.

Jake had taken off his shoe, and was examining his not very sightly foot with an eye to stone-bruises. No spirituality in the conversation bribed him from thrifty thinking on his crops.

“Retaliation is not the spirit our Lord changed this world in,” Luther Bosler said, his dark eyes intelligently following Abel Quantrell.

Hannah Ritner’s eyes shone with all their might of compassion, as she turned on Luther, before the old man could speak the repartee his folded lip concealed:

“Sir, Master Quantrell’s retaliations were never upon the weak. He soared among the eagles in his indignations. We humble Germans he led by the hand as high as we could go, and there we saw him battling with the power enthroned in the sun. He defended slaves escaping over the free-State line. He assailed Freemasonry in its brutality toward a human life. He broke the power of ignorance in Pennsylvania and made Education one of the tyrants there, with the power to tax, like forked lightning in its hands. We sluggish Germans did not always understand him; we had not his mercurial sensitiveness to the injuries of simple multitudes — of women, of illiterate children, of poor, black slaves. But we felt that something of Messiah had come among us with righteousness in his hands, and we set him in the seats of power until—”

“The lower Yankee interest in his nature made him desert you,” said Abel Quantrell, bitterly. “Yes, Ninon, I gave myself to career like the bright, impetuous waters of the Blue Mountains, which at last subside in the shallow and malarious estuaries of the bay. I laid down career, and I am dead. Look at me — whited, withered, wigged, and limping! Have I not thrown myself away?”

“No, master!” the woman answered in fervent eloquence. “The world has captured you, but not your principles, and, like our old German emperor, Barbarossa, you sleep in the cavern till the freedom of our land shall awaken you.”

“I have a son,” the old man said. “In him I may awake, but never again in my enfettered self.”

Katy cried, before she could think: “Oh, he was here! We took Lloyd to love-feast. He eat with us Dunkers last Sunday.”

“Sho, sho! No doubt he multiplied the base and height of himself together and the product by the breadth. The cube resulting is still a baby’s block.”

“He is a manly lad, master!” said Hannah Ritner, with her great eyes downcast. “Something of his father is there.”

“Yes,” said Abel Quantrell, languidly, “the complement of his father: he will be as rash to support power that is false, as I was to attack it. In my rowdy son, I see the compensation of my own self-indulgence.”

“It is not true!” Katy cried; “Lloyd is a gentleman. He eat te Passover!”

“I guess he’s purty bad, Katy,” Job Snowberger said. “He ain’t a-persewerin’.”

“Job Snow!” from Hannah Ritner, “where is your charity?”

“Come, Ninon,” said Abel Quantrell, with lessening interest in the subject; “I must have my game of cards.”

Luther Bosler and his father went back to the field; Katy and Nelly and Job Snowberger went to fruit-peeling again; Hannah Ritner and Abel Quantrell had chairs under a tree near the creek, and a barrel-head furnished them a table; from the dwelling they could be seen playing for Spanish silver pieces.

Katy was still and troubled, Nelly Harbaugh no less preoccupied and silent, and Job Snowberger, the only talking quantity left, got no reply for his chance remarks.

“Katy,” he said at last, “you is so still, I think you want to come to Kloster Schneeberg.”

“Oh, you old fool!” Nelly Harbaugh spoke, “what does she want with your old stupid nunnery? We women want career.”

She glanced at Katy, who looked up, her eyes full of tears, and said:

“Nelly, what makes me so ignorant?”

“Goodness,” Nelly Harbaugh answered.


 

CHAPTER XXII.

THE YANKEE.

TILL late in the day Abel Quantrell played euchre with a spirit compounded of gain and hazard, his opponent sometimes requiring to be stirred from her abstraction, yet seeking to engage him with all her irregular solicitude.

Finally, the old man, as she studied a careful play, closed his eyes, and when she was ready, he did not respond.

The sun was growing low, and Hannah Ritner placed her chair so as to shield him from its glancing rays, as they were dandled on the South Mountain’s crest.

“Oh, that this day would bring its result!” she sighed aloud.

A head was in her lap and a kiss upon her hand; she looked down, and Katy Bosler was kneeling on the ground.

“What is it, simple child?”

“My ring,” whispered Katy. “He wants it.”

She pointed at Abel Quantrell, sleeping.

Katy held up the mourning ring of Lloyd Quantrell’s mother.

“Fortune-teller!” said Katy, “this ring Lloyd’s mother was married with. Oh, must I lose it, as you told me I would? Can’t nothing save it for me? It is all I haf, since I gif Lloyd my accordion.”

Hannah Ritner looked at the ring.

“It is sanctified by death,” she said. “Lord rest the soul who made this ring so dear!”

“Lord, let that soul be kind to me!” responded Katy, fervently. “I only want to gif myself to Lloyd, and nothing selfish haf I got but love — te first of love I ever felt. How strong it is, Mootter Hannah!”

“Drive it away, my child! Exert your mind to be free! Rings like this were never made to be worn by poor, ignorant girls. Give this ring to me, and I will wear it for you, and then it never may be lost.”

“You, Mootter Hannah! Haf you got te power to keep it always for me? If I gif it to you now, maybe I will lose it, all py myself, and pe foolish.”

“Hush, Katy!” Hannah Ritner pointed to the sleeping sire of Lloyd Quantrell. “Leave it with me to conjure with awhile.”

She slipped the ring upon her hand, and Katy stole away.

Abel Quantrell opened his eyes and said:

“The square of self is but half selfish; but the cube of self has higher walls than angels ever scale. Plato, with all his divine reach, could never solve the problem which had baffled the oracle of Apollo.”

“Dear master, what was that?”

“To start with one’s self-indulgence and multiply it into a sacrifice; to double the cube. Geometry, no more than an oracle, can do it.”

“Master, you have always defended the poor.”

“Sho, sho! Too often from pugnacity, reasoning from them to my own fancied injuries. The humility of the Nazarene never was in me. He who seeks to save his life shall lose it, Ninon.”

“Master, have I not been seeking to save my life by losing it? Are we ever all unselfish?”

“You have been, or sacrifice has no God, my child! If ever love was willful, suicidal, and martyr-minded, it was yours. I offered you myself, and you refused me: with every right to me, you sent me on my career and blessed me as another’s bridegroom, and turned back with all your glorious powers of body and of heart to be, like Hagar, the bride of the wolf, and your habitation in the wilderness. What have you been recompensed in?”

“Career, my master. I saw a work to do.”

“Sho, sho! I know what that has been: to take the place of danger on the Underground Road and save a slave or two, whose escape to freedom only aggravated the sorrows of the rest, and made the bloodhound Federal laws invade the North. A hundred Quakers have done as much, Ninon.”

“Master,” said the woman, “I have gained knowledge. I have predicted things which came to pass. I predict that, before you leave this humble farm, the brazen door of bondage will resound to the sledge-hammers of our daring smiths!”

As she spoke, fervidly, she seemed to swoon, and her long hair fell downward to the ground.

He placed his arm around her, and she pushed it away.

“No more of that, master! I am in the very labor of my lifework now, and my soul is in the depths of travail! Oh, be a just man to your son! He loves you.”

“He is too brave to need my justice,” Abel Quantrell said. “Like me, he will not bow the knee to man, and be ashamed of Nature — bountiful and wise in him. Justice is for the commonplace; freedom and independence are for heroes.”

His face, being animated now, had lines of coarseness in it, as if he was of the satyr’s type, and mocked conventionalities.

“Shall I be just to you, Ninon?” continued Abel Quantrell, when he had restored his hand to his bosom, and was restfully proud again.

“I have been just to myself, master.”

“How?”

By my spiritual gift. I am your wife.”

“Sho, sho!”

“See, sir! The dead deliver to me the rights I would not ask for. She who has sought to lose her life, has saved it.”

His faded eyes fell upon the wedding-ring, which she had dropped into his palm, upon her hand.

“Magic!” said Abel Quantrell; “how came it here?”

“Wafted!” Hannah Ritner spoke; “the day of my agony, when my martyr-fires, perhaps, are lighted and my chain is forged, the ring I had refused slides down the rainbow to my feet.”

“Are you one of those Spiritualist fanatics, Ninon? Sho, sho! There is no divination in geometry. Three times from the base is the cube. It was my son you got that ring from.”

“No, master; but from the child he gave it to when he engaged himself.”

“Sho! He had visited no lady when he left Baltimore six days ago. I have found a wife for him, and that brings me here.”

“He has found love here, master. You may give him another wife, but not the one he loves.”

“Who is it?”

“Little Katy, who sits in yonder house of log and stone; the Dunker farmer’s child.”

“Sho, sho! No need of marrying there. He can love in one place and marry in another—”

“And have remorse, like you, master?”

“How do you know that?”

“I heard you bring it from the woodlands of your sleep, saying that self-indulgence never could be expanded into a sacrifice.”

The old man raised his club-foot and looked at it bitterly.

“There is a gnawing in my bosom, Ninon, but it is the decaying principle of life. I am sixty-seven. That self I accuse myself of is the selfishness of career. If I have sacrificed others, here and there, it was to keep the greater compassion in view, and change the systems by which wrong and tyranny were possible. I resigned most passionate love to plant myself in the domestic circle of border-State slavery, and to work its downfall by the social foothold I obtained. My son must marry to strengthen me in the same labor, and make Maryland a free State before I die.”

“You will marry him to a religious woman?”

“Yes, to a Catholic. The strength of slavery in Maryland lies in the old Catholic counties and families, and in the increasing college and conventual institutions of that Church. There was a time when Carroll, of Carrollton, took me by the hand, when we Anti-masons came to Baltimore to overthrow the power of President Jackson. There lie latent in his church resentments against all forms of ruffianism, of which human bondage is the chief. I have sent my son to Catholic school and worship. For me all gates to heaven are too narrow; by freedom I will go in, or be the specter of Heaven’s own injustice, agitating at the gate!”

He spoke with sardonic quietness, yet without quietness of soul.

“Master, is there not the Jesuit’s method in your plan? ‘The quality of mercy is not strained.’ It passes no suffering human creature, to do some greater good, beyond. By Jesus came compassion in the world, and by politicians and by pontiffs came religious craft. The New World was given to tyrants, and its native millions thrown into slavery, that they might be saved from greater damnation. I predict, with truth in my soul, that one brave man this day, without scrip or raiment, and his life for the stone in his sling, will strike every false system down, and be the hero of the world.”

“You wander, Ninon! Sho, sho! you were always wild of mind. Had there been such a man, he would have come to me.”

“You were a politician, master, and he came to me. Oh, I fear I may have done wrong, that good may come of it!”

Abel Quantrell took her head upon his shoulder. She resisted a little moment, and was still.

“How much you have suffered, Ninon!”

“I have died, master, and am raised from the grave. When you married, I prayed for your wife, but all was death to me for days. I came to this world again, people thought a little crazy.”

“Always a little above this world, child.”

“That I might not be a burden and mockery to my great political relatives, I crossed the State line and lived in a little hut. The children came to me for curiosity, the mature to have me tell their fortunes; my cottage light was the polar star of a thousand slaves.”

“All this time, Ninon, I was mismated. Disgrace followed me, also: my brother moved beside me, and became a negro-trader; my son became a corner-lounger and a bully. Sho, sho! My heart sought you out in the dreams of sleep and in the nervous wakefulness of the night. Why did you not take the square root from our troubles and send for me?”

“You were married, master. A great thing had purified my heart.”

“I know, my child. How noble you were, there! Behold my wretched residue of marital ambition! I am too old to love you now.”

“Master, it was from you, in the days of our passion, that I drew the example to think on others’ wrongs. The old Dutch sects — Quakers in other respects — felt no offense at human slavery. I took up the work when you relinquished it. My labors are almost ended. — What man is that yonder, master?”

As she arose, in all her strength and stature, Abell Quantrell saw that she was trembling.

“Sho! Joan d’Arc,” he said, tenderly, “beneath your armor I see the poor child still.”

A black man came forward with Nelly and with Katy; he was half naked, and nearly dead with fatigue.

“Speak, poor man!” called Hannah Ritner. “You were with Isaac Smith across the river?”

“Missy, dey’s fout all day. Mos’ all is tuck an’ killed. Two of us got away — and what was leff in Maryland. Mosster Quantrell sent me.”

He produced gold pieces.

“Good Lord!” cried Nelly Harbaugh; “this is the runaway nigger, and he must have stole the whole reward for himself.”

“Missy, Lloyd tole me to come to Bosler’s farm and give dis money to Luther to buy me with it. He wants to save my life and own me.”

“Yes, do buy the pore man!” Katy cried. “He’s known nothing but misery.”

“I’ll attend to the matter,” Abel Quantrell observed. “Ninon, put yourself across the Pennsylvania line without delay! Has this weakness brought on a civil war?”

Hannah Ritner was the picture of one dying, yet struggling to live.

“Go with her,” Abel Quantrell continued, speaking to the negro Ashby. “I am anxious to gratify all my son’s wishes at this moment, foolish as they may be.”

“Why?” asked Katy Bosler.

“Because I have picked out a wife for him, little Dunker! and would persuade him to my will.”

He called for his carriage and servant. Hannah Ritner and Job Snowberger drove away with the negro Ashby.

Suddenly Nelly Harbaugh cried, as Abel Quantrell also passed from view:

“Katy, fergesht! where is your wedding-ring?”

Awakened from the stupor of several minutes, Katy looked at her hand and screamed.

She ran to the house and rang the bell loudly for the field-hands to come home, and then started up the stairs.

“Where are you going, Katy?”

“To git a-ready for Harper’s Ferry and to see Lloyd.”


 

CHAPTER XXIII.

JOHN BROWN’S FORT.

AS Lloyd Quantrell entered the armory-yard with a signal of truce, his quickened apprehension took in the Washington family-carriage on the grass riddled with bullets, the engine-house doors splintered as if by lightning, and at least four short barrels of rifles pointing at himself from the door-crevices and the brick loop-holes.

Expecting each instant to meet the fate of Stevens and wallow on the ground, a hulk of broken bones, he exerted his empty hand with an earnestness which enabled him to gain the door unshot.

“Captain Brown, they are killing your son-in-law, William Thompson! He cried to me for help. None but you can save him!”

At the moment he spoke a shower of balls made a circle around him, and the rod, on which had been his hat, was twisted out of his hand by a bullet which benumbed his whole arm, and from the wood and brick of the engine-house chips and brick-dust were struck. The door opened, and unseen hands pulled him in.

“Prospectin’, heigh?” a merry voice said.

“Your brother, Dauph Thompson, is being murdered on the bridge. Listen!”

The sounds of many guns, a faint women’s wail, and a cheer without a note of joy in it, followed by a sort of silence such as animals keep whose food has suddenly been thrown into their dens, related some horrible story.

Dauph Thompson turned pale, and still his voice was cheery:

“Willy murdered? They wouldn’t do that!”

He threw open the engine-house door sufficiently to crouch in the sill, and said pleasantly, yet troubled:

“Prospectin’.”

In a moment something appeared protruding on sticks and poles from the corner of the hotel and station, where the town mayor had exposed his life.

“That’s something to draw your fire, men; don’t be foolish!” John Brown’s settled, metallic voice spoke from the top of a fire-engine, looking through an arched and shivered window.

Dauph Thompson stood up in the doorway and turned his face inward; it was pale, as if he had a mortal wound.

“Don’t mind me!” he said, in mournful pleasantry. “I’m jess prospectin’.”

“What is it, Dauph? Are you hurt?” Ned Coppock cried, throwing his arm around his comrade.

“Ned — it’s Will’s clothes they’re showing — full — of his blood!”

“Murderers!” muttered Coppock. “Don’t cry, Dauph. He give his all, and all is over now!”

“O Will! Never to see you more, my brother!”

“Yes, Dauph. This is not all the life that good men live.”

Wiping the tears from his eyes, and shaking Coppock’s hand, young Thompson turned his face to Captain Brown, and spoke pleasantly as before:

“Prospectin’, father — jess once more.”

He looked at his gun, closed his lips and opened his nostrils, and a slight flash of spirit, more sportsman-like than serious, came from his eyes.

He stood erect in the crevice of the door, and raised his gun to his eye.

It went off, and with it he spun around, as if from its rebound, and fell upon his face on the brick floor.

Coppock turned him over, and called —

“Dauph!”

“Prospectin’,” replied a faint voice, and his bosom filled with his heart’s blood.

He had been shot, courting death, with a miner’s phrase upon his lips, and had found the eternal treasure where the streets, they say, are paved with gold.

“O Isabel!” a moaning voice came from some muddy and travel-stained clothes upon the floor. “Oh, water, father!”

“Be composed, my son,” spoke the steady voice of John Brown. “Your wife’s brothers have both died like men. Die the man, like your brother Oliver!”

He gave the order to close the doors and risk no further lives, and to keep the prisoners back.

Quantrell would have been killed, to expose himself at the door, so he retired to the side of Watson Brown and leaned Watson’s head upon the cold form of the dead Oliver.

“Drink of this flask, my lad.”

This time the suffering man did not resist the life-infusing draught.

“Give some to Olly,” muttered Watson Brown. “He is so cold.”

Quantrell counted nine prisoners sitting around the edges of this nearly square room — which, as has been said, was some twenty-four feet upon a side; the watch-house, under the same roof, was now deserted by friend and foe.

The prisoners had nothing to do, but seek to get a little rest by sitting upon a narrow sill or coigne, like an abortive bench, which ran around the chamber a little above the damp floor. Some of them John Brown had permitted to shield themselves with the leather hose or any other fireman’s traps which would divert a bullet. All the prisoners were tractable and worried; some nodded for a little while; others ventured a word occasionally with the chief raider or some of his men; and one or two had a thin, genial phrase to say, parrot-fashion, rather as formulae to keep up luck, than to court any popularity.

“Ole Ball” was seen to be a heavy, bacon-fed, middle-aged man, probably of the large Virginia connection of George Washington’s mother, and he paid great deference to “Cappen Smith,” for, notwithstanding his own admissions, and the assurances of his men, the greatest bewilderment still existed as to the true name, location, or purpose of the bandit chief, and, with dogmatic loyalty to hearsay, the Virginians believed John Brown to be still Mr. Isaac Smith, carrying on some little game.

“Josephus!” Ball would say, when a bullet struck one of the engines and disported itself among the wooden girders above, “Cappen Smith, that was close, now!”

A Maryland man, with a little smiling shiver, would on such occasions add in a small, cowed voice:

“Zip! Be on your qui vivy!

Mr. Washington had so far recovered from his melancholy as to make a suggestion at long intervals, directed ostensibly at Captain Smith’s safety or comfort, but with a generous providence, also, which embraced himself.

“Ah, captain, sah!” he said, soon after Lloyd’s entrance, “don’t your son want a doctaw?”

“My son knows his duty, sir; and makes no complaint,” John Brown remarked, inspecting his revolvers.

“But, ah, captain, sah! He did ask faw wataw, and captain — ah! we all want wataw greatly, captain.”

“Your fellow-citizens, gentlemen, have killed my men sent on errands of our mutual benefit, and I will take no more risks till my re-enforcements come. — Here, men, back that fire-engine against the door, and stretch these ropes across the jambs! Put the engine-tongue so as to hold the door against a battering, and run the other cart forward! Wake up those recruits underneath the engine and let them earn their living!”

The recruits consisted of a few slaves gathered from neighboring “estates,” as the farms were called; and these negroes, debarred from any other excitements all their lives than Whitsuntide or “a licking,” were now expected to take an intelligent, indeed, heroic view of their first opportunity, and the white prisoners faintly smiled at this proof of a natural incapacity for self-government.

“Cappen Brown,” said the master-machinist of the armory, heretofore described as “Ole Ball,” “don’t you think it’s an ongrateful time for these men and brethren to be a-snoozin’ and leave you to earn their salvation? Josephus! cap.”

A ball went whizzing among the men and peeled the rafters above.

“Zip!” said the Maryland man, in an awed voice; “be on the qui vivy now!”

“Ah — sah! Torturing — sah!” from Colonel Washington.

“The disciples,” replied the gnarled old woodsman, in his shrill key, “went to sleep the night on Gethsemane, when their Master asked them to watch with him one little hour. They were continually sleeping, sir, until he requested them not to get up any more, for, said he, ‘the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.’”

A piece of glass, sheared off neatly by a bullet, went sailing through the room. The four men able to stand by their arms returned the courtesy, and the place stank of sulphur, and every palate was coppery and hot.

“Zip! Be on the qui vivy,” the Maryland man was heard to say, and shudder in the smoke.

“Josephus! Cappen Brown, how you kin remember Scripter!”

“Nothing remarkable about that, sir, for I studied for the Christian ministry before I was of age, till an inflammation of the eyes, sir, sent me back to my tan-yard.”

A nail came whistling through one of the sky-windows and played a little tune as it tingled on the levers of one of the engines. The negroes, working there, fell on the brick floor again. The voice of John Brown was heard to say:

“No man is fit to fight for human nature who despairs of it. This world slept in trespasses and sins when the unwelcome Redeemer came. And why should these ignorant slaves, whose forefathers came to Virginia in bondage the same year my ancestor came to Massachusetts in the Mayflower, be awake, when we alone, of all the Mayflower’s children, are awake to their injustice? That is why I am here, prisoners — to awake this land! I expected these slaves to awake last. If a thousand years to the Lord are but as a day, may not these three hundred years of bondage be but as a night of sleep to these?

“Bang!” “Bang!” “Bang!” “Bang!”

The four guns in the hands of Brown’s surviving fighters went off sequentially, two at the port-holes, two at the doors.

“Josephus!” spoke Mr. Ball, “the place smells like a bad ror egg!”

Answering shots brought down a little shower of flattened lead upon everybody.

“Zip!” said the Marylander’s quaver of a voice. “No use of bein’ on the qui vivy yer!”

“Water! Father! O my God!” a breath sighed up from Watson Brown.

“Ah — captain. Your son! He is thirsty,” Colonel Washington appealed.

“My son is a brave man,” replied John Brown, firmly. “‘I thirst,’ gentlemen, was the cry that let the Christian era in. Your fellow-citizens, to whom we meant no wrong, but justice, give these dying soldiers of mine the hyssop and the sponge of vinegar to cool their thirst.”

“Don’t weaken for me, father!” gasped the ashen face of Watson Brown.

“O man!” Lloyd Quantrell cried, “are you, who rebuked me for killing a dove, so merciless as to hear your son howl like this? And quote your Bible, too!”

The usual momentary salute came tearing through the little fort.

Captain Brown peered out of the door, and the balls struck around his stiff hairs and stooping shoulders. He carried no gun, and returned like one who had merely been examining the weather-indications.

“Men,” said he, “be careful now of your ammunition. My re-enforcements may be somewhat late. What you are to guard against is a sudden rush upon you, or the establishing of a rifle-pit, or a blind, within easy aiming distance of this building. That you must not permit.”

“Captain,” said one of his men named Stewart Taylor, a cool, freckled lad, “how many re-enforcements do you expect?”

“It is only a question of time, Taylor,” Brown answered. “There may be thousands of them.”

“We’ve got the promise of them,” a taller man exclaimed; “and we’re four good men yet, besides our commander.”

“Yes, Anderson,” the leader remarked, stroking his long beard; “we are in stout walls, well armed, and nothing but cannon can batter down our fort, and these prisoners forbid their using any cannon.”

He looked around upon the nine or ten discomfited men, hanging or crouching there, like hams in a smoke-house when the bear family pay it a visit; and the free negro, Green, the surviving one of the pair which had menaced Quantrell, remarked:

“Their lives, I guess, ain’t worth no more than our’n!”

“No, Green,” John Brown replied, “prisoners must take their chances; this is a war.”

Ed Coppock gave a reassuring look at the prisoners and walked out upon the lawn, where his rifle was soon heard to crack. He returned, laughing, pursued by musketry which made the doors sound like rats gnawing through them.

“I gave that Gault House a shot,” he said, “in remembrance of poor Stevens.”

“Isabel, are you here, dearest? I can’t see you!” — from the pale lips of Watson Brown.

“Drink, lad,” said Quantrell.

“Oh, it comes out of my wounds!” the sufferer cried, putting his hand upon his stomach. “I can’t hold anything.”

“You have asked me a question, Mr. Quantrell,” the indurated father observed, returning back along the course of the conversation — “why I could reprove the killing of a dove, and permit the killing of a man, even of my son?”

He came over and felt of Watson’s bleeding abdomen, and covered Oliver’s dead face with a blanket, and, regarding both with an interest which, in its very practicality, was pathetic, he continued:

“Blood is so precious that no man should take it for amusement; and it is the most wholesome sacrifice to the Lord. On Abel’s bleeding altar came the approving fire from heaven, while Cain, whose sacrifice of sticks God did not respect, fell on his brother and slew him. The sole question of bloodshed is: ‘In what spirit do you shed it? what is the motive of your sacrifice?’”

“Zip, cap’n! Be on the qui vivy!” from the Maryland man.

“Oh, kill me! O my Bell!” from the tortured Watson.

“Your cause is just, my son. Bear it like a man,” John Brown proceeded. “Now, sir” (to Quantrell), “it is permitted to man to shed the blood of animals for his necessities. ‘Have dominion over them,’ said the Lord in the beginning. Yet every sparrow is counted, every lamb is measured out, and, in the dove’s domestic love, is heaven made emblematic: the Holy Spirit’s peace. As I have rebuked you for killing the inoffensive dove, I call this nation to account for its cruelty to our fellow-creatures. In either case, sir, the interference may have been gratuitous; but blood of mine, and of the humble doves of peace, in Kansas, was shed before I began.”

“Josephus! Cappen Brown, you don’t shoot us down yer, because out yonder in Kinsas there was a fight, do you?”

“Zip! Be on your qui vivy!

Colonel Washington’s hired black servant had a considerable wool-clip taken out of his head at this point.

“I want water, too,” he exclaimed, in his terror. “I’m chokin’ fo’ it!”

“That fellow — ah!” Colonel Washington exclaimed, in a low voice, to Quantrell, “came to this resort too willingly when Cook and Stevens ordered him; it would be — ah! — retribution, sah — if he did lose his life, sah.”

“Mus’ we die heah of thirst, an’ de rivers full of water?” exclaimed the negro man, lying beside his abandoned spear.

“There is a river,” sighed Watson Brown, “whose streams shall make glad the city of God. Oh, let me swim there — in the Au Sable! — Bell, Bell, bury me by the water, dear; I want to lap it, darling.”

He opened his eyes, and recognizing Quantrell, added, manfully:

“Yes, bury me by my comrades, by the river-side, away from the cavalry.”

“By the Au Sable, did you say, Watson? Where is that?”

“It’s too far,” spoke the boy, deathly sweat upon his forehead; “by the Kaw; that will do. Or by the Shenandoah. I fought by both streams — where father said it was right.”

The evening came down upon this little scene — of the mysterious invader and his four remaining soldiers, standing by their guns against the assembling country. Toward night the firing became merely drunken about the streets, and Brown let a prisoner or two go out from his little ark, but neither dove nor raven returned again; and the whistling of trains, opposite and above the town, indicated the coming of more and more troops; but still John Brown believed, from time to time, that they were his “re-enforcements.”

He evidently believed this, because he would confer with his men — Anderson and Coppock being the more intelligent of these — and he would, with the woodman-scout’s carefulness of ear, compare the sounds of rifles in the distance, and say, “Surely they are my re-enforcements.” His men had such entire trust in him that they offered no suggestions nor criticisms, and did the whole of the fighting self-directed. His only order, from time to time, was, “Don’t lose your interest, men! Don’t be surprised! My re-enforcements are not far off.” A rifle was seldom in his hand; he sometimes drew the sword of King Frederick; but the negro Green, alone of his men, was suspicious of the white prisoners. Quantrell counted these and sounded some of them upon the propriety of a coup de main — to grapple with this old man’s three whites and one negro, and throw open the doors and call for assistance: it was no longer practicable, for the prisoners, while not less apprehensive than in the morning, had become cowed in all their being, as from the short-learned habit of obedience.

“Why, friend,” whispered Quantrell to one of these, “has one day made white men slaves? What would a hundred years not do, then?”

“Don’t you feel cowed, too?” asked his fellow-prisoner.

“I must admit that I do, every time I re-enter this place and fall under that old man’s influence. But why are not his little band, enveloped by a world of our people, also made timid?”

“Crazy, I reckon!”

“Fanatics, yes,” said Lloyd — “no doubt they are; but if they represent many abolitionists like them, what will be the fate of slavery? This old fellow has the self-deception of Mohammed; he is the prophet of God to all these boys: they pass, fighting, to his paradise.”

“I can’t be kept much longer!” from the dying Watson Brown; “I shall see Fred and Olly, over there, by the river. — Bell, let me kiss my little boy and go!”

“See there!” Quantrell said, “he is worse than a fatalist. Who paid him to come here? He would get none of our land and own none of our slaves, if he should prevail. Fanaticism in its purest, most ignorant and simple form, is behind and in these men. I never would have believed abolitionism could amount to this.”

“Dreadful!” moaned the man; “I’ve leaned agin this yer brick wall till I’m damp as a goose, and my head’s as sore with thinkin’ as t’other end is of tryin’ to soften this ar brick. I didn’t never think I could think so much as I have this yer one day.”

“How much thinking,” said Lloyd, “has old Smith given to this thing? He began it when he was a young man.”

“Oh, he’s a smart old scoundrel. But if the Lord will let me out of yer, I’ll promise him to think about nothing for the rest of my days!”

And so darkness fell upon the dead, upon them in bonds, and upon the living fanatics. Silence followed the darkness, except when Watson Brown cried out in pain and delirium.

At length there came to the door, after some parley, an officer of a company from Maryland, a plain-speaking, German-derived man, whom Brown had met in his rambles, perhaps, and he said:

“Cap’n Smith, I don’t bear no malice to ye. Where in the world did ye come from? Who air ye? What did ye come hyar for? Now, Smith, surrender, and make no further trouble. Ye’re agin the law — you must know that.”

“If you knew who I was — what I have gone through against this thing of slavery — you could understand what brought me here, sir,” the leader replied. “I have tried to send my proposition several times to them in command against me. Who is in command?”

“Why, Governor Wise, of Virginia; he’s near by, they say, and the United States marines from Washington; they’ll be yer soon. Jist at present thar ain’t no commander, ezackly.”

“Then, sir, I shall not surrender to a mob, to have my few men here massacred — before my re-enforcements come.”

Later on, the same kindly disposed militia captain sent a doctor in, to see the suffering son of the bandit. He said he could not determine anything without a light. Brown would not permit a light; it would expose his position and the number of his command, and he might be taken unaware before his “re-enforcements” could arrive. It was agreed, however, to prevent, if possible, firing upon the engine-house for the night, lest the hostages might be injured. The doctor promised to send in some anodyne for Watson, but it never came.

A fear now seized the prisoners that, in the storming of the engine-house, they would have the double danger of being killed by their friends or massacred by their captors; and, this being mooted to Brown, he said:

“In war, prisoners are subject to all the dangers of the belligerents. I will send you to the rear as far as I can. Keep against the back wall there.”

“Oh, can’t I git a brick that ain’t so much kiln-dried,” from the man of sore body and soul — “a brick that’s a leetle damp — outen the mold, like, and that would give just a leetle?”

“Have to be on the qui vivy to find that,” another sore voice from the darkness.

“Josephus!” another voice, like a snore, “if the Government work is like this night’s, I shall resign and settle as fur off as Kinsas.”

“This night,” expressed the voice of weary agony, “O darling, kiss me and say, ‘Husband, go!’ I am so burning! Water, Lord Jesus, water!”

“Patience, Watson!” the old man’s voice. “Your father does not intend to sleep. — Keep ready, men! The enemy is treacherous and cruel.”

All the night long they heard this old man, alone in his responsibilities, keeping up the weary vigilance of his men, and sure of his “re-enforcements.”

Quantrell, busy with all chords of sensibility, from religion and the creeping dread of death to love and retaliation, asked himself, at last, the meaning of Hannah Ritner’s prophecy:

“When thou killest everything.”

He had killed nobody as yet, nor was like to do so.

He tried to nod, but his mind kept recurring to things of life — his father’s half-withheld affection, Light Pittson’s warm attractions and romantic admiration for himself, and Katy Bosler’s nestling confidence and love.

The cool yet thirsty night passed away, and cloudy dawn came in at the hemispherical window-tops.

No food, no certainty, no solution.

Watson Brown had been rolling and vomiting and talking of his wife and baby all the night. His father was more of a satyr than ever, with spiky hair and matted beard, and powder-stains upon his long muzzle of a nose. No other apprehension than anxiety about his “re-enforcements” was in his cold, gray eyes, no tremor in those lean, muscle-jawed cheeks — nothing less than primeval, aboriginal, provincial, warlike purpose, from Hebrew to Scotch Highlander, was in his square mouth and stone-cut eyebrows.

Taking his rifle, he said to his men: “We will exact terms and be allowed to cross the river with our prisoners, or we will join our companions in the heaven of the merciful and the brave! Let no man be a craven now. You have been faithful soldiers. Sometimes re-enforcements fail, but ours must come. They are promised where it says: ‘Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,’ and ‘he that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for the truth’s sake shall find it.’”

Sounds of all kinds broke the early morning air — the crowing cocks, the soaring crows, the railroad’s whistle, halloos, cries, and huzzas; and, finally, there came the sound of men marching past with solid, regular tread, upon the grass and graveled walks of the armory-yard.

The raiders were all looking through port-holes and doors ajar, and Stewart Taylor spoke:

“I never saw soldiers like them. What are they?”

“United States marines,” said John Brown.

“We’re not fighting against the United States,” exclaimed the taller man, Anderson, “but against slavery.”

“The United States,” said John Brown, “protects slavery, and is protecting it now, with the marines we pay our taxes to support.”

Directly afterward, while the earliest sun stood in the gateway down which the blended rivers rushed to extinguish it, a rap came on the engine-house door, and a voice, official, not loud, but with reserve in its tone, spoke:

“I want to see the commander here!”

“I am that man,” John Brown spoke, promptly, coming forward with the sword in his hand and the rifle leaning beside him.

“I want you to surrender to the United States authority, of which I am an officer.”

“What terms am I offered?”

“You will be protected from the populace, and handed over to the civil authorities of Virginia for trial.”

“They would hang me and my men.”

“With that I have nothing to do. Do you surrender?”

“I demand permission to cross the river on the bridge, and at the farther end of the bridge I will let my prisoners go, and we shall then have to fight for our lives. I consider this fair, lieutenant.”

“It is inadmissible. You must surrender.”

“I will not surrender. I will die here, resisting the United States!”

“Take the consequences, then.”

“We are ready.”

“Are you John Brown, who fought at Black Jack in Kansas?”

“Yes; I was there. Were you there, too?”

“I am Lieutenant James E. B. Stuart, of the First Regular Cavalry, which prevented you renewing the skirmish.”

“Why, I know you, sir. And now you know, lieutenant, how I came to be here.”

“You won’t surrender, Brown?”

“Not on your conditions.”

“Very well, sir” — in a tone of indifference.

“Stand to your arms, men!” the metallic voice of John Brown exclaimed. “Distribute yourselves to the best advantage. We shall not yield to such terms.”

“Captain Brown,” interposed Taylor, respectfully, “I did not come here to fight the United States.”

“Nor I,” said the other man, Anderson.

“We have fought well, Captain Brown, but we can’t fight our country,” Taylor continued. “Our Canadian constitution reads, ‘Look to no dissolution of the Union, but simply to amendment and repeal.’”

“Yes, Captain Brown,” added Anderson, “and further it says, ‘Our flag shall be the same our fathers fought under in the Revolution.’ I was the first man, captain, to come to Maryland with you; I helped you find the Kennedy farm for our headquarters. I have made war upon Virginia, but not upon the United States.”

“Do as you please, men. I shall fight. In Kansas my son submitted to the regulars, and was marched in chains under the burning sun, fettered to a dragoon’s horse, and he lost his mind.”

The two men, Anderson and Taylor, unbuckled their belts of arms and threw them aside, set their rifles in a corner, and retired without fear or haste to a space within that corner, in line with the doors.

The dying son of John Brown sought to raise himself and take a gun; but his eyes glazed, and he could not see. Ned Coppock went to his relief, and put Watson’s head upon his lap.

The negro man Green, troubled but not dismayed, exclaimed:

“What will become of me? Colored men ain’t got no country an’ no flag.”

“Stand by your gun, Shields,” young Coppock replied. “I won’t see you imposed on. — Captain Brown, we’re three left.”

He resigned Watson Brown’s care to a colored man, and came forward with his rifle.

“We are three,” said John Brown, firmly; “but we shall have re-enforcements.”

As he spoke, the old man vaulted into the upper works of the engine, crouched there, and bent his eye to his rifle.

Green knelt at one side of the engine, and Coppock at the other side, each sheltered by a wheel.

The two dead men were used by some of the prisoners as defenses, among other articles.

In the intensity of that moment, John Brown turned to his prisoners and remarked, calmly:

“Your safety, gentlemen, is in not changing your positions during the assault.”

Probably every prisoner there muttered or thought of some act of his own, or said some reverent word.

Lloyd Quantrell thought of the negro man he had saved, and of the Dunker sacrament he had taken.

Regularly moving men were heard outside; their side-arms were heard to rattle to the decision of their tread, and the words —

“First file, forward! — second file, forward!”

These came close to the doors; their very breathing could be heard. The ragged port-hole revealed them to a few within. So could the prisoners be heard to breathe, and the shivering voice muttered like spell to its own fears:

“Be on the qui vivy!

“Number one and two!” from outside.

In an instant fierce blows from great hammers were delivered upon the door, and the weight of those hammers expelled the breaths of the men who swung them through the air.

The door trembled with the weight of those blows, but was large enough to distribute their power, and ropes stretched within made the door recoil. Only some ragged parts of the door fell with the shock of the sledges.

Quantrell saw Brown looking down his rifle-breech, keen as a squirrel looking along a bough.

“The first eight from each file — forward!” spoke the same voice of high nervous energy, in tones low pitched.

In a moment a tremendous sound came from the door as if a cannon-ball had struck it. The very building seemed to quiver.

“Are you ready, men?” from the bushy, squirrel-eyed bandit leader.

“Ready, captain!” from two cool voices, of one black man and one white.

“Lord-a-mercy!” and groans from the fugitive negroes of the neighborhood who were back among the prisoners.

“Back!” from the open air. “Forward, now — smart, and all together!”

The door seemed to split and to lose cohesion in all its bolts, yet hung by the upper hinge; and below, where it was unhinged, a bright flash of daylight came in, and the legs of men in blue were seen.

“In there, number one! Next man — file second! In with you! Use the bayonet!”

As the first marine came stooping through the fissure of the door, the colored man Green discharged his rifle; the man fell with a cry, and was dragged back from outside.

“In with you, number two!”

As the second marine came in, Coppock’s gun went off; the man stumbled, but fell forward. Smoke, ascending from these rifles, filled the engine-house and slowly soared upward, and John Brown, lying along the top of the engine, was concealed in the smoke.

Lloyd Quantrell saw a small man in officer’s dress creep in the broken space at the bottom of the door, and peer around like a rat, as the smoke arose.

Suddenly this man, by two switches of a sword in his hand, extorted loud cries from both Taylor and Anderson, who had ceased to fight.

“Murder! Oh!”

“Quarter! God!”

Quantrell saw this small officer’s elbow and bright blade thrust vengefully again and right into the bodies of the same unresisting and unarmed companions, who fell howling to the brick floor.

His attention was for a moment diverted from this marine officer by a second one, possibly superior in rank to the first, who came half-way in and also peered around, and whose countenance was manly but unexcited.

The rifle of John Brown was leveled at this man; Quantrell looked to see him fall dead.

Brown kept the officer under his merciless aim a second, and then, seeing more marines come in, he put his rifle down and drew the sword of King Frederick.

His act was beheld by the first marine-officer, who had been looking everywhere, under strong excitement, as for the leader of this foray.

This officer drew his bloody blade, bounded upon the side of the engine, and with all his might slashed the old leader across the head, and then, by an upward blow, delivered with the whole fury of his feelings, he stabbed John Brown and felled him to the hard floor of the engine-house.

Hands seized one of the engines and hurled it forward. The door fell entirely outward, and the daylight shone upon the little prison and its huddling and furious or frightened beings: upon the smoke, the cries, the curses — the living, the groaning, and the dead.

The next thing Quantrell saw was the rush of a great multitude from the railroads and the river. They came with shrieks of —

“Hang them! hang them!”

While groping his way out, Quantrell saw the maddened lieutenant of marines, who had killed Anderson and Taylor and stabbed John Brown, strike one of his fellow-prisoners, a respectable old Virginia gentleman, with the flat of his sword.

“Shame, sir!” cried Quantrell.

The maniacal officer turned upon our hero and smote him, also, with the flat of the same sword.

Quantrell staggered backward and fell into a strong pair of arms.

“What! Bruder Lloyd. You here?”

It was Luther Bosler. He kissed Lloyd fervently in the Dunker fashion.

The next minute Lloyd Quantrell’s bleeding face was passionately kissed also by Katy of Catoctin.


 

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE FREE-STATE LINE.

WHEN Luther Bosler and his father came in from plowing at the premature sounding of the bell, the news of an insurrection at Harper’s Ferry had been confirmed, and Katy was almost distracted by her lover’s danger and the loss of her ring; while Nelly Harbaugh, whose strong, worldly nature kindled at the great neighboring event, prodded Luther Bosler to take both the girls to Virginia.

“Nay,” Father Jake Bosler entreated, “wass is de use? Ich con’s net goot afforde. Te wheat-ground ain’t a-ready, Luter. Stay away from worltly contintions. Trouble comes time enough. Bi’m-by.”

“Fader,” Katy spoke, “Lloyd’s there: sell is olles.”

Saying “That is all,” she broke down, and Nelly Harbaugh cried:

“Dawdy Jake, you’re hard on Katy: she’s nervous; she’s growing; it’s a delicate time of life for Katy.”

Jake Bosler took his child in his arms and called her “leeb” and “dowb,” while the turtle-doves at the window made their plaintive “ah-coo-roo-coo-roo!”

“Katy,” he said, “you is too good for te city mans. Stay with fader, and pe te likeness of my Olty to my poor heart till — Bi’m-by.”

His eyes were full of tears as he called her the only likeness of his dead wife. Katy threw her arms around his neck, crying:

“Oh, my heart pulls both-a-ways! But Lloyd pulls it the most!”

“Jake,” spoke Luther Bosler, after reflection, to his father, “tese great events happens py us for some good purpose. We must not fly from te Lord’s works. I’ll put two hands in my place, and take te girls.”

“No, Luter, stay home. I’m daddy, and I forbid you.”

“I’m minister ofer you, Jake, and you must opey.”

“Tere’s your gal, sohn Luter — Nelly’s giddy. Keep her at home and to work, and you’ll haf her to enjoy. Take her into te world, and she’ll find temptation. Bi’m-by.”

Luther took up the Bible and called to prayers; he prayed for Nelly and for Katy, and for peace in the world.

“Now, girls,” he said, arising, “we’ll make some pusiness out of all this. Harper’s Ferry is, maype, full of hungry strangers. You git to work and cook pies, chickens, ham, whatefer will sell, and I think I can pring home to fader more money than plowing prings.”

Jake Bosler seemed placated at this business outlook, and went to the stable to give special bedding to the horses for the journey.

All night the girls and hands stayed up to cook, and before daylight the big wagon, with two seats in it, was moving down the South Mountain side. Climbing the mountain, they saw Burkettsville’s spires come out of the valley mists, and in Crampton’s Gap the early partridge cried “Bob White!” Katy slept in Nelly’s lap.

“Pure child,” said Nelly, “her worldly love is fresh, Luther, as a new-laid egg in the hen’s nest; what will it hatch?”

“Experience, dear. If you are in love, it will be the same.”

“Luther, you are too wise a merchant to be a Dunker preacher. You will get rich if you take to the world. Oh, take me to see a little of the world, before we settle into everlasting Sabbath! I want experience, too — what Lloyd’s father called ‘career.’ There is no want of love for you, my darling, in my heart, but I am not made” — she blushed as she thought of her own vanity — “to be always unseen.”

“No,” said Luther, “you are peautiful, Nelly. You shall pe seen of children, healthy like yourself, and one of those is more career than any man can have. To be a mother, supreme ofer a family — it is experience only one man efer had, and that was Adam, from whose side the woman came.”

She blushed at the moment’s anticipation of purely brought motherhood; but suddenly men started up between the cross-roads in Crampton’s Gap and seized the horses’ bridles.

“Money!” exclaimed one — a slight, stooping youth, with pale blue eyes; “we want your money to buy subsistence.”

Around them were seven men, one a negro, and all the rest white — travel-worn, stern young men, and revolvers were in their hands.

“You are fugitives from Harper’s Ferry,” spoke Luther, looking at them out of his large, sluggish eyes. “We have food and plenty of it; take, and pay, if you can. But we carry no money in this country.”

They ate like famished men, and inquired about all the roads to the free State.

“Walk on te mountain-ridge,” said Luther; “it is wooded and not often steep, but you may get thirsty for water. When you descend to the springs, look well for enemies. Beware at te free-State line of te kidnappers, who are probably lying in wait for you. Get well into Pennsylvania before you descend te mountain — yes, twenty miles.”

They apologized for rudeness, and went up into the mountain-ridge, northward, while Luther turned at the guide-post in the Gap to the south, and threaded the narrow Pleasant Valley by the winding cascades of Israel’s Creek. They fed at the Dunker churchyard, at Brownsville, and as they drew near Harper’s Ferry, before sunrise, the roads became crowded. All the country was up, and Sandy Hook was like the center of a great camp-meeting. Soldiery were waiting at the bridge, travel from everywhere stopped at this ragged point, and time continued to bring more and more crowds. The old man, Isaac Smith, had suspended the Western world to the wand of his mysterious will.

Luther sold out his load before he crossed the bridge, and awaited the preparations to storm the engine-house. They saw the marines formed, and the quiet Colonel Lee giving the signals to the marine-officers from a place in the armory-yard; and then the rush of thousands to the captured stronghold.

After Katy found her lover, they still paused to see the dying son of Brown led out, and Lloyd Quantrell gave him water, which ran through his wounds; and so, in time, Watson died in Coppock’s arms, peacefully and unconscious.

Colonel Washington was the hero of the delivery, and his gestures, when returning felicitations, had the grandeur of his origin. The mob ran his hired negro into the river Shenandoah and drowned him there, and desired to tear John Brown to pieces, also, but he, from his blood and bruises, exclaimed to the better officer of the marines:

“Sir, I had you covered with my rifle; I expect you to protect my life, as I protected yours.”

The officer saluted the brave old man. “Captain Brown,” said he, “I thank you; in return, I will protect you with my life.”

Very soon the queer old captive was complacently conducting an argument with the Governor of Virginia, a man of great romantic sensibility, who had already planned, on this émeute, a political campaign to make him President of the United States; and the two delightfully vain characters were entertaining reporters, Congressmen, and militia-captains with their sallies: but around one lay his dead-sons, sons-in-law, and comrades; and his political campaign would lead to nothing but the scaffold, to which he had the task to give dignity, if possible.

He turned out to be poor as pauperdom itself, without the means to transport himself back from the slave States to the free States, had he ever repented, and he had begged the little money for this expedition as the last enterprise of a disappointed but once promising career.

The bodies of his sons and connections were either taken by surgeons to the dissecting-room at Winchester, or buried with their comrades in a pit across the Shenandoah, where they lie near the unending grief of the plaintive river — poor bones of boys assembled by a wizard, to be the last relics of a mastodon age, and ever curious to moral, mental, and political science.

Those followers of Brown who survived, fitted to his situation with the anatomical symmetry of his own ribs; they continued to accept the leadership of his dignity, philosophy, and consistency, as they had followed him upon that forlorn hope to which his sincerity had given infatuation and plausibility.

Ned Coppock, taken with his smoking gun, soon became a hero among his captors; Stevens was put together, like a bloody puzzle; and these two were sent to Charlestown jail, eight miles away, with Captain Brown, in a wagon, as also the negroes, Green and Copeland, while the pursuit of the seven fugitives went on in the Maryland and Pennsylvania mountains.

The whole land was finally convinced that John Brown had made his insurrection with an “army” of only twenty-three men, of whom ten had died fighting.

It might have been possible to treat John Brown’s raid as without full moral accountability, and thus to have remanded it, by the contempt of justice, to the silence of a lunatic asylum; but the politician at the head of Virginia became the instrument to connect this little affair with the mightiest revolution of the age.

Governor Wise summoned the military of Virginia to arms, upon the belief, or pretense, that Brown’s was only a portion of a general insurrection and abolition invasion; and the little court-house place of Charlestown became, for five months, a garrisoned spot during the trials and executions of Brown and his survivors, while the example of Virginia led to the arming of every slave State, and thence proceeded the fomentation of the scheme of a separated republic, to assure the safety of slavery.

To Charlestown, therefore, let us soon proceed with our story-people.

Katy Bosler, after fondly receiving her lover, cried:

“Te accordion, Lloyd; where is it?”

“I left it at the old bandit’s farm, Katy.”

“Oh, goodness! And, Lloyd, te fortune-teller, who said I should lose my ring, has run away with it to Pennsylvania. O darling, what shall we do?”

“Go after them both, Kate, if your dear little heart is troubled. I have enlisted in one of the military companies to put down this insurrection, and we are ordered to cross the river and see if the enemy is at his stronghold.”

“Come on, then,” said Luther Bosler; “I’ll trife by John Brown’s farm, and go home by Solomon’s Gap.”

As they were setting out, the English pointer appeared, profuse in his gladness of rejoining friends; and to Katy he was ever a flatterer, cringing at her feet and licking her hand.

“The hound loves you, Kate,” Lloyd Quantrell said; “I’ll give him to you, to keep at the farm in remembrance of me.”

At the school-house in the marsh, boxes of arms were found, ready to be transported to Virginia. At the little rugged farm, they found many evidences of the conspiracy: letters torn to pieces in the short, thick pines, and arms and lead in the tenement of logs across the road; discarded bundles, boxes, and bags; and on the porch the dog Fritz stood tied, and hardly disposed to permit intrusion.

Lloyd attempted to go by this dog, to look for Katy’s accordion, and Fritz seized him by the garments and held him fast.

“Hallo!” Quantrell said; “why, here’s the last of Captain Brown’s recruits, and determined as all the rest.”

“Fritz is a faithful friend,” said Luther Bosler; “not as valuable a dog as yours, Lloyd, but more reliable. Katy will gif him to you.”

“Yes, Lloyd, if I find you took good care of my accordion.”

Quantrell disappeared into the loft of the small cabin, and there he found the humble instrument under the eaves.

“Here it is, Kate,” he cried, returning; “you little goosey, what makes you fear?”

“Now go and find her ring,” Nelly Harbaugh spoke; “it was your mother’s; it will make Katy your wife. Hannah Ritner has gone to the Siebentager Nunnery, only a day’s ride from here, in Pennsylvania.”

“Shall I go, darling?” He turned to Katy.

“O Lloyd, do go! De letsht naucht war’s orrick dunkle.”

“Dark was that night, also, to me, bright eyes, when I expected to be killed and never see you more.”

“Lloyd, your father says he will marry you to a Cordullish — a Catholic, one hochmoot un reich. If you do not find my ring, I shall believe it.”

“Dear old father! But he can no more make me love another than he can love me, dear. How does he know this strange Ritner woman? Why, now I see something!”

“What is it, Lloyd?”

“That pony she rides I have seen in my father’s stable. He, like Hannah Ritner, is an abolitionist.”

As they paused to let the horses blow on Elk Ridge Mountain summit, the vale of John Brown was seen behind them, stony and steep, and before them the verdurous Pleasant Valley, with its stone farm-houses and apple-orchards, and, like a great, green vine swung low, the South Mountain drooped to Crampton’s Gap, to give admission to the Catoctin Valley.

“Katy, good-by,” Lloyd said; “don’t ever fear for me, gentle child! Never in love before, I could not forget you now, if every interest declared against you.”

“I shall nefer let you go,” the child said, with a resolution he had not observed in her before. “Since you haf come, Love has took possession of me. I will pray; I will persevere. I don’t see how I am to get you, Lloyd, but I don’t dare to lose you.”

“O Katy!” exclaimed Nelly Harbaugh, “the difel of love is striving in you as I never saw it before. I could not be so headstrong.”

“Nelly,” spoke Katy, in the tempest of her woe and courage, “you can never love like me!”

Procuring a horse from a Dunker farm, on Minister Luther Bosler’s request, Quantrell made his way to Smoketown, and entered the garden of Hannah Ritner.

The cool mountain-brook gurgled through her lot; the gourds hung from the arbors; the bees were humming drowsily in the hive; but stable and dwelling were empty of furniture, and the mountain behind the house was streaked with the foot-tracks of escaping slaves.

The neighbors told him that the fortune-teller was a great traveler, especially into Pennsylvania, and was now reported to be in Chambersburg.

Quantrell put his horse in Hannah Ritner’s stable, and lay down to sleep alone in the little hut. He was very tired, and not until he had slept off his burden of fatigue did he begin to dream.

He dreamed that his mother’s lost wedding-ring was a great wheel or tire of mourning gold, with black enamel in its rich yellow, and he was trying to roll it like a hoop up the mountain; but it weighed heavily upon his sinews, and he felt it overthrowing him with its backward gravity; he cried for help, but all the response he could hear was a little baby’s cry, until, when he had given up hope and resigned himself to be crushed by the black and gleaming cincture, a pike or spear was hurled from above, as if out of the sky, and it transfixed the mighty ring, like a dart ringed by a golden quoit; at once the ring was fractured, and the black enamel upon it was detached like a separate hoop, and went thundering down South Mountain with a sound like rolling fire, and he could hear it plunge into the Antietam Creek and sizz there, like the red-hot stones which, at hog-butchering time, the farmers boil their scalding hogsheads with.

Dart after dart came ringing from above — the very pikes, it seemed, that he had seen in boxes that day at the bandits’ rendezvous — and each of these entered the other lucent rim of virgin gold remaining there, which, like a mirror, flashed the heavens back, and, becoming magnified to powerful proportions, this ring contained an inscription, “Pure Union.”

Quantrell was afraid to look up and see what valkyrias or spirits had hurled those lances into the nuptial band; but, as the golden rim grew more and more distinct, he began to see faint faces reflected from the sky — faces with blood upon them: the ashen face of Watson Brown, the bloodless blue lips of Oliver Brown, the raven beard and wounds of Kagi, the hollow sphere of Lehman’s skull, the mute, appealing countenance of William Thompson, and others he feared to pause and think on.

He awoke: at the little window of the cabin a golden-ringed light of a burning piece of pine illuminated a group of faces pressed against the panes. Quantrell raised a yell of dread.

The light was extinguished; steps were heard receding.

“This is a witch’s den!” thought Quantrell, his heart bounding in his breast; “surely I saw the faces there of old John Brown, of Ned Coppock, and of Hazlett, Cook, and others of their band.”

He entered Hagerstown next day, and found the whole population talking of the raid, and looking at himself and at all strangers with suspicion. Large rewards were out for Cook and others, guessed at or known, and Isaac Smith, or Brown, had been seen by half the people in the town, hauling away the boxes of arms he had received by rail from Chambersburg.

To that place Quantrell fearlessly proceeded, taking a roundabout course through a famous kidnappers’ settlement called Leitersburg, within sight of the Pennsylvania boundary-line. Here the tavern was beset by wild-looking borderers, and Quantrell narrowly escaped being made to stop and fight, according to the chivalry of those times; he “treated” liberally at the bar, and was relieved to find that the Logan brothers, whose chief rendezvous this was, had gone off in the South Mountain to hunt for John Brown’s fugitives.

Resolved to keep his word to Katy, the young man slowly continued on to Chambersburg, a flourishing shire town, twenty miles within Pennsylvania, and there, too, the excitement about the great abolition raid was universal.

Hundreds of people stood before an old, low warehouse with derrick windows, where John Brown had stored his Kansas rifles so long before employing them; and threatening groups molested a plain boarding-house on a back street, where the recruits for Brown, and that redoubtable captain himself, had been accommodated with Christian shelter.

The keeper of this dwelling bore the same family name as Hannah Ritner, and was said to be a daughter-in-law of a former Governor of Pennsylvania, but Lloyd found such apprehension and terror in the family that he could get no information of their mysterious connection, though he thought, when he said he was the son of Abel Quantrell, that they took a suspicious interest in him for a moment.

The Governor of Pennsylvania was a Democrat, of the same political party as the Governor of Virginia, and would manifestly deliver any of Brown’s band up to the jurisdiction they had offended. The Pennsylvania public considered Brown’s greatest offense to have been the purloining the sword of General Washington; and it was thought hardly less culpable to have provided a “nigger” with bed and board in a white family.

The person that all popular vengeance was now directed against was little Captain Cook, the forerunner and spy of the raiders, and he was believed to be in the very county of Scotch and Irish settlers where Quantrell was now wandering.

Considering that Hannah Ritner might be at the Seventh-Day Baptist kloster or nunnery, Lloyd, several days after the raid, turned his horse southward and began to approach the bright bounding hillocks of the South Mountain again. Toward evening he entered an old German hamlet called Funkstown, near the clove of the mountain, where the source of the Antietam Creek ran out, discolored with the ores of iron from an old furnace in the gorge. The aspect of the region was romantic, yet sinister, as if the near contact of slavery had caused premature decay and human degradation. He was eating his plain supper in the tavern, at the entrance to the little town, when he heard the sound of many feet in the small sitting-room and bar, near by.

“Don’t be afraid of me, boys; I won’t do you any harm,” he heard a not unfamiliar voice say.

Looking out, Quantrell saw a mob of little boys, trembling in the presence of one hardly bigger than the least of them.

This childish figure had his hands tied behind him, and was dirty and disordered, like one who had been living in the holes of foxes, or crawling on the earth like the serpents there.

“Eat your supper,” spoke a practical voice; “we must have you in Chambersburg jail to-night, so be quick.”

The speaker had a low, mercenary sparkle in his eyes. His victim’s long-fringed orbs of blue shone out amid his dirt, and gave him some of the pathos and dignity of fate.

“Poor Captain Cook!” Quantrell exclaimed; “to think that he can be, in the eyes of any law, a worse being than his captor, that vile slave-taker!”

“If you mean Ben Logan,” cried a plain man at the table, “I pray you not to speak so loud. He has his slave-pen close by us here, under the mountain, and in this clove the runaway slaves generally come down, thinking they are full ten miles inside of a free State. Logan takes them here, and gets his blood-money; and he has a band of lads he has demoralized, who would stop at no revenge.”

Nevertheless, Quantrell made no concealment of his person; the slave-taker looked at him with some dislike, but it was now all subordinated to the avarice of a thousand dollars’ reward.

“John,” said Quantrell to the boy, who had washed his face and was eating like a famished wolf, as he stood before the drinking-bar, “what did you quit the safe mountain for?”

“Starvation!” replied Cook; “my companions were dying for food, and I quit them to find it.”

“You might as well have sold life dear; you will surely be executed.”

“They surprised me,” said Cook, the food sticking in his throat, as his feelings rose. “But for their treachery, I would have taken a bloodhound’s life for every ball in my revolver.”

“Oh,” said another captor of the boy, complimentarily, “he fought like a wild monkey. Four of us was atop of him at once, and the fattest feller had jest to fall on him and knock the breath out of him before he would give in.”

“I pity you, Cook,” Quantrell said; “though you, also, played a treacherous part.”

“You may well pity me, sir,” the frail little man said, with swimming eyes; “my comrades have no great friends, and can die with sincerity, while my distinguished relatives will ruin my fame to save my neck, and I shall be hanged all the same.”

They took him to Chambersburg jail in the pleasant autumn afternoon. The news soon came that Hazlett, too, was recaptured at Carlisle; but the brother of Coppock, and another son of John Brown, and two other whites and a negro, under the kind vigilance of Hannah Ritner’s friends, escaped to Canada.

As Quantrell was walking up into the gorge at Mount Alto furnace, looking at the spot where Cook had been taken, after an exciting struggle, an employé at the iron-works said:

“Are you aware that the patron of John Brown is a relative of the chief captor of this Captain Cook?”

“How so?”

“The papers say that the great abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, gave the land in the Adirondack woods, where John Brown’s family live. Now, Gerrit Smith married the daughter of Colonel Fitzhugh, of Hagerstown, and she is the aunt of that other man who, with Logan, took Cook away to claim the reward. So the aunt helps Brown and his band to come here, and her nephew sells him to Virginia.”

“Strange,” said Quantrell, “what coincidences lie in this short vale of the Antietam! We may be on the brink of a great strife, and, if so, the hurrying fates that have encamped in this small district may keep it still in their commemoration.”

He next rode down the strong brook of the Antietam, to the old Seventh-Day Baptist nunnery.

It stood in a crevice of the mountain foot-lands, where a meadow bubbled up in copious springs which, fashioned into a bed, wound in a strong brook between the long brick monastery and the low, massive, white-plastered church, and then, caught up in a mill-race, turned two old Dunker mills. The dwelling, or kloster-house, was nearly a hundred and fifty feet long, and of a delightfully broken form, with a great-chimneyed, squatting kitchen in the middle, flanked by long conventional wings — on one side a cool porch and several doors, the other side more primitively German, with little lines of windows, and over the center dormers rose the naked cupola and bell. The gurgling brook, talking at its birthplace, described such gossipy rounds of flowing, that all the parts of this settlement seemed to be in a circle, and fruit sprang out of the earth as if here was some old corner of Paradise, neglected but uncursed. The humid spring meadow was tinted with blue sedge and flowers, and a pond in the midst was their looking-glass. Woods and rocks shut in the church, and its two doors that separated the vexing mystery of sex; cultivated hills hid the nunnery from the south; the cedar, fern, ailantus, catalpa, apple, and pear trees gave grateful shade; and milk and cider showed their butteries and presses to the covetous eye of the homeless tramp, for whose terror a sign was put on the door, which none of his brotherhood was ever known to heed. Close by, the graveyard showed the tombs of the Snowbergers, for whom Snow Hill (berg) was named, and of their Ephrata-reared friends; and the South Mountain, losing its coherence here in Pennsylvania, described great hillocks and cones near by, and in the south showed the blue promontory in which it crossed the free-State line, and then swerved irresolutely away.

Quantrell looked everywhere for some human being to speak to. Finally, he saw people — women and men — off in the fields reaping late hay and preparing winter ground. He remembered that it was the Sabbath, when the contrary zeal of sect impelled even the lazy Seventh-Dayers to exert themselves, lest they might be thought to respect the Sabbath they had discarded.

He spoke to some of the women, but they paid not the least attention to him — old, fat, dull women, like winter apples, never ripe nor mellow; they wore their hoods of figured brown or black calico, and plied their rakes, and seemed between a blush and contempt of man.

“Are you Job Snowberger?” he addressed the solitary man among these ancient pullets.

The man looked at him, with a countenance where gallantry had been suppressed and curiosity flagellated, an envious, simple smile, and proceeded to whet his scythe.

“Are you deaf, or only a fool?”

Unshicklich!” exclaimed the man, with a piping cry, like a disappointed child’s, and his mouth turned toward the women.

These came upon Quantrell with their field implements, all shouting German words together, and one or two looked as if desirous to fight a man, if merely for the novelty of encounter.

“I’m a-tryin’ to persewere,” cried the man, with tears of temper in his eyes, “and he calls me Norr.”

The women raised their rakes and hoes on Quantrell.

“Poor fellow!” Lloyd said; “the last rooster on the hill, and protected by the hens! But don’t be violent, my beauties. I only want to find Hannah Ritner, for little Katy Bosler.”

Wass!” exclaimed the man, “is Katy persewerin’? Unshuldich! Does she seek te Kloster and te heilich life? O yubelee!

Weck-gae!” cried the old women, turning back to their work, as if disgusted with such enthusiasm.

“I’m Katy’s beau — Lloyd — and I want to find Hannah Ritner, and get Katy’s engagement-ring.”

Weck-gae! Depart!” cried Job Snowberger, again in tears. “Shweshter Marcella is in Ohio. Katy is in sin. You are in mischief, and you’ll persewere in it. Te ring of Bosler’s child is lost in te spring.”

He pointed to an old dairy by the nunnery-kitchen, and, falling tearfully to his reaping, began to wail a piping psalm.

“Gone mad betwixt love and scorn of love, I reckon,” Quantrell said, walking to the dairy-house.

Lying there on the floor was Andrew Atzerodt, beside the troughs of water, an empty bottle at his side. His snore was relieved by the falsetto of Job Snowberger in the meadow, sounding like a babe’s complaint.

Quantrell bent over the spring, and in it the light, falling upon some tin or metal object, described a shining circle in the bubbles.

“That’s what the poor lunatic meant by Katy’s ring, I reckon,” Quantrell said; “he’s ‘gone’ on Katy, like myself.”

Atzerodt aroused, and looked up wofully.

“Here, you vagrant fellow, come back with me to Virginia, and to your coach-maker’s trade!”

“Never!” answered Atzerodt; “I’m doing nothing now but hunting niggers and apolitionists, and running petween te lines.”


 

CHAPTER XXV.

CHARLESTOWN.

AS Atzerodt and Quantrell walked into Charlestown, Virginia, after many delays, they found it convenient to take one of the side streets, and avoid the herds of militia; for the entire State had knocked off work, and was making Brown’s immortality with more than the directness of superior intelligence.

It had suited the prevailing opinion there to assume the gravity of a great injury, too deep to permit any other State to share it. The inhabitants, talking on the subject to strangers, adopted a reserve which showed how the sensitiveness of slaveholding had destroyed personal individuality, and banded into almost maudlin one-mindedness, like Niobe and her family, a society scarcely beyond its pioneer period; for a house where Atzerodt stopped to peep in was, like many others, composed of recently hewn forest logs. He drew back in a moment and exclaimed:

“Py Jing! tere’s te black man with te white face!”

Quantrell approached the shutters ajar, and, at the first adjustment of the light within to his eyes, he cried:

“Why, that’s John Booth, the actor, my friend and schoolmate!”

A young man with a large, intelligent face, given pale contrast by his rich, black mustache and curling black hair, was reciting in the middle of the floor, listened to by males and females with the greatest interest.

“It’s te very picture of te man I rode with in my dream, py Jing!” Atzerodt continued.

The reciter within ended his task with these lines, given with robust and nearly impassioned vehemence:

     “Heroic matron!
 Now, now, the hour is come! By this one blow
 Her name’s immortal and her country saved.
 Hail, dawn of glory! Hail, thou sacred weapon!
 Virtue’s deliverer, hail!”

“Look, Lloyd!” whispered Atzerodt. “Py Jing! he’s got a knife in his hand, shoost like te black man with te white face!”

The young actor did shake above his head, and apostrophize it fervently, a glittering thing — continuing:

     “Did not the Sibyl tell you
 A fool should set Rome free? I am that fool! . . .

 Hear me, great Jove! and thou, paternal Mars,
 And spotless Vesta! To the death, I swear,
 My burning vengeance shall pursue these Tarquins!
 Valerius, Collatine, Lucretius — all —
 Here I adjure ye by this fatal dagger,
 All stained and reeking with her sacred blood,
 Be partners in my oath-revenge her fall! . . .

 Up to the forum! On! the least delay
 May draw down ruin, and defeat our glory.
 On, Romans, on! The fool shall set you free!”

Loud applause followed the reciter’s tragedy-selection, from the same author whose piece of “Sweet Home” had been the battle-march of John Brown. In a moment the actor came out, followed by some of his more intimate admirers, and he called affectionately to Quantrell:

“My dear Lloyd, where did you come from?”

“Maryland, John. And you?”

“From Richmond. I threw up my engagement at the theatre there when I heard of this outrage, and enlisted in the Grays; and I am here to stay till these myrmidons are hanged and Virginia avenged. Let me introduce you to my friends — Mr. Arnold, Mr. O’Laughlin, young Master Herold, and Mr. Fenwick, of the clergy.”

Quantrell hesitated about introducing Atzerodt, who was unshaved and shabby, but he saw that Booth’s following was hardly more genteel.

Arnold he had seen, as a Baltimore bread-baker’s son of the old German stock; O’Laughlin, as a runner in that city, of the opposite political party. Herold was a mere lad from Washington, modest and wondering; and Fenwick, who wore a black suit neatly buttoned to the throat, and had a silver watch-guard, was a fresh, square-set blonde, with the dignity of the Catholic novitiate priest that he was.

“Who is your friend, Lloyd?” asked the actor. “We are all Virginians here.”

“This is one also, I believe — Mr. Atzerodt.”

Booth shook the common fellow’s hand with such kindness that he stammered out:

“Say! Vere is dat womans dat said ‘Sharge!’ te night we rode up te Short Mountain?”

“What does he say?” asked Booth.

“Oh, he had a dream, when he was tipsy, and so he is tipsy now, and he thinks he saw you in that dream.”

“Oh, some people are carried away by the acting,” remarked Booth, considerately, as they walked along. “Now, do you know, I don’t set much value on acting? This is what I like — real campaigning. Here is meat for your John Howard Paynes to write about — the coming of the Tarquins to this beautiful valley, their murdering of its yeomanry, and inciting servile insurrection; and who would not prefer to be Junius Brutus, to either the author or the player of his part? Think of the time when the hero of a convulsion like this will be the subject of poetry, and as he inflicts revenge for Virginia’s injuries, he utters the motto Jefferson gave the shield of the insulted State, ‘Sic semper tyrannis!’ ‘Thus ever with tyrants!’”

Halting as he spoke, Mr. Booth put his foot upon a stone riding-step at the curb, as upon a tyrant’s head, and again raised his white hand and eloquent face to the sunlight.

Quantrell now saw that Booth had been drinking a little, and was unusually aggressive.

“The stage,” said the divinity student, Fenwick, much impressed by Mr. Booth’s trained pulpit manner, “has never illustrated morals as it might do, Mr. Booth, in gentlemen bred for it, from religious homes like yours. That, perhaps, is why actors seldom realize in private life the affected virtues they delineate. Yet there is no reason why an actor may not be a hero, too.”

“He can’t be, Father Fenwick” (the “father” a deferential reference to the youthful priest’s canonicals); “the actor is a closet-rat, a caged-up hawk. He must make so many paces to the rear, turn and fence, or strike, at such a distance from the foot-lights, go off by this or that numbered slide or exit; and all that preparation to deceive or impersonate is called ‘study.’ Here is the nobler theatre of the roads, the cross-paths, the ravines, and the country maids. If I had been at Harper’s Ferry, there would have been a chance: I am the best shot in the profession; I can jump like a circus-rider. My study has not been of dog-eared play-books, like my father’s other sons: I have qualified myself for a soldier and a champion. With two or three good drinks in me, I would have been the man to give old Brown’s party the start they wanted, and tell off an equal number of brave men with them, and chase them up the canal side of the river, killing as we went, or dying in our blood. What a death, or victory, would that have been!”

His animated, yet hardly egotistical manner, made its impression, and O’Laughlin said:

“Wilkes, I’ve seen you fence, and jump, and spar, too, and I know how you parley vous of it.”

“And, John, I’ve seen you ride the devilishest horses in Harford or Howard Counties,” Arnold added, “and you never got throwed neither.”

“You ain’t a bad man to be out with for a scrimmage, after midnight,” added Quantrell, “as I have found out.”

The recipient of these compliments took them with a good nature which had yet a manful health in it; he was not a tall man, but of strong-welded, equal bodily parts, the arms showing large muscle under his soldier-sleeves; and he was a little bowed in the legs, but this was only noticeable when one measured him for athletic utilities. His figure was so gentlemanly that he never would have been suspected of any physical affectations or prowess, but for his own reference to those subjects, which Quantrell, who knew him long, ascribed to his having drunk some liquor. The soldier-clothes and pompon hat he wore admirably became his trim figure and striking yet harmonious face, lighted by fine black eyes and in all its features clear and considerate.

“Py Jing!” exclaimed Atzerodt, “I played on te theatre, too!”

“You?” from Quantrell.

“Yes, py Jing! I built the biggest band-wagon for te circus dat ever started from Fergeenia. It was shoost as long as dis street. It held most a hundert music-players. I trove it, py Jing—”

“And what then, old fellow?” Mr. Booth asked, with mischief in his eye, throwing an arm affectionately around the boy Herold.

“Why, I trove it into a ditch, py Jing, and proke te heads of tem tam horn-blowers! Hya, ya!”

All laughed loudly at Atzerodt’s manner and terrier-bark of a laugh; and so they walked along, noting the straight, ridgy turnpike town, with its houses of brick, limestone, or logs, turned sidewise to the narrow sidewalks, and in the distance the Blue Ridge, or South Mountain, rising from the wooded fosse of the river Shenandoah.

In a depression of Charlestown stood the brick, porticoed court-house, opposite a tavern, and the stone-and-brick jail opposite another tavern, and diagonally opposite the court-house. At these corners was all the semblance of militia pomp — sentries, guardhouses, officers of the day, colonels, and generals; orderly sergeants riding, self-important, on errands of mighty insignificance; horses tied to racks, and warriors bowing and scraping, ogling and suspecting. There was apparently some Satanic plot, in the air or under ground, to bewizard this sturdy, steady, demi-German population.

Rumors of coming abolitionists to rescue Brown and his six men were of daily and nightly verification: frenzied people came in who had seen marching columns; from the house-tops of Charlestown signal-lights and bale-fires had been distinctly noticed; anonymous letters threatening more insurrections came through the post; the United States Government was as fully suspended here as if Virginia meant to cast it off; and the mails — those nerves of healthy life or the torturing pins of political neuralgia — were manipulated, assorted, and controlled.

Thus, as the secret of a murder, extending through a large family connection, discolors the world to them, the cry of the unpaid laborers rang forever in the ears of those who had inherited the system, and two insurrections in one whole generation had been met somewhat as if expected — the injury was felt to be proportionate to the hazard of the institution.

Of all places in the world, except Mount Vernon, here was the spot to point the lesson of John Brown — the family settlement of General Washington’s younger brethren, who had crossed the South Mountain barrier, not as the “Knights of the Golden Horseshoe,” but as the knights of shoeless herds of slaves, to mix this degraded labor with the old German tide of voluntary labor, from Pennsylvania, and up the long valley, between the mountain parallels, to drive the discolored tide till, in the ignorant white race of the far Southwest and the hopeless black race there, phosphatic death seemed rich for the chemist of Revolution, to come, with his burning acids and hot retorts, and manure the New World with human bones.

The streets of Charlestown were labeled with the Washington family’s prenoms, and in the churchyard there lay their dead; and the foremost of that name, which King George had put a bloody price upon, was but yesterday the captive of John Brown, the abolitionist, who desired to exchange him for “a nigger.”

Was it this despair of pride, in a system as fleeting as the robber’s booty, which occasioned all this military pomp? Or was it the self-deception of the Pharisee, which exalted to self-respect, and even to didactic and reasoning retort, the dying and impenitent thief beside the unfriended martyr?

This discrimination, which is the first of political crimes, is also the foundation of public hypocrisy — the classifying of men from the standard of one’s own righteousness; and there was nothing so righteous in its own esteem, in all the nineteenth Christian century, as the insulted slavery of Virginia. Like Lucretia of old, it fain would die, in this instant of such perfect purity as to have become rapine’s victim.

No face in Charlestown showed this expression of almost antique and fateful yet holy reverie like John Beall’s, whom they met before the principal tavern, and whom Quantrell introduced to Mr. Booth. His settled features, straight lines of brow and mouth, and reserved address, were those of a man against whom, alone, the whole insult of Brown’s raid had been directed.

Fenwick, Booth and Quantrell accepted an invitation to visit the prisoners in their cells.

The prison, on the public corner, seemed a respectable dwelling, with an extension of a more sinister appearance on the side street. A “reception-room” was within, and the partly open door thereof showed a boyish lad leaning upon his elbow at the window, and interrogated by one of several important-seeming men.

“That is said to be the Democratic Governor of Indiana,” spoke Beall; “the boy is that infernal scoundrel Cook, his brother-in-law. Gentlemen, they are all abolitionists, or the same family would not turn out two kinds of professions.”

They passed along and entered a comfortable cell. John Brown sat at a little table reading his Bible aloud to a man who reclined upon a bed.

The old woods-fighter was in discolored and rag-rent dress, having been too consistent to accept other clothes from those who lived by the toil of slaves; his wounds were healing, but his scalp was still bandaged up, and his face showed bruises.

The other man on the bed was a dreadful object, as the balls remained in his head and body, and between his gashes the pallid streaks of health were like the white stripes in the American flag.

“Captain Brown,” Quantrell said, “here is a young priest who takes an interest in you.”

John Brown looked up at Fenwick, while extending his hand to Quantrell.

“Of what persuasion, sir?”

“Roman Catholic. You would not reject my prayers for that, Captain Brown?”

“No, sir. But do you believe human slavery is right?”

“I think so, captain.”

“Then you are a priest of the devil, sir, and need not bestow your prayers on me!”

A resonant voice at the cell-door spoke in a slight German accent:

“Captain, your dinner is ready! This way, sir!”

They all looked up, and there met their gaze a large, black-eyed man, with a tray of victuals.

All looked down again but Quantrell; he stood, staring at this coarsely dressed servant in open-mouthed astonishment.

“Where—?” he finally spoke, in a low tone.

The man raised his finger to his lip, and looked at Quantrell with the intensest meaning.

“I know you, surely,” Quantrell said, almost breathless; “you are—”

“Silence!” whispered the man, with a stately motion, far above his roughly marked face and ignoble dress — “silence, by your mother’s spirit! Let me pass.”

John Brown took this person’s arm and hobbled painfully from the cell.

When Quantrell turned again, he found Booth and the nearly helpless fellow-prisoner of Brown conversing strongly:

“Spiritualist, are you?” sounded the voice of Booth. “Well, if I had you to do with, I would take you at your word, and, like the witches who dealt with spirits of old, I would burn you at a pile of fagots!”

The man, shot all to pieces, but cool as a red fall apple punctured by the wasps, answered, as well as he could talk:

“Kind fellow you are! Now, if I were to meet a bad, black eye like yours, going through a woods, I would give you a broom!”

“A broom!” said Booth, looking puzzled at Stevens, the disabled captive; “what would I want with a broom?”

“To get a-straddle of it,” concluded Stevens, “like the witches you ride with, and go to hell!”

At these invincible sounds the young priest, Fenwick, crossed himself hastily, while Booth and Beall looked down at Stevens with strong hate.

“Keep out of such company, my boy,” Stevens remarked to Quantrell; “they have no progress in them.”

“Progress — what is that?”

“Heaven is nothing but progress,” Stevens said; “my education was nothing: don’t you suppose heaven will be a school to me? The spirits of my love will be around my desk; old angel friends will teach me music; I shall read, and know, and progress onward. That’s my belief. My sweetheart left it to me when she passed away.”

As they left the jail, Quantrell asked the kind-eyed jailer:

“Who serves the meals to Captain Brown?”

“An old Dutch baker out in the town; he sends the captain’s meals in by his people.”

Lloyd Quantrell was silent. He knew, however, that the person with the tray of victuals he had seen in the jail was either Hannah Ritner or her ghost.

He hastened to the baker’s house, on a back street; they knew nothing of any person answering to the name, or description, or disguise, of Hannah Ritner.

Katy’s ring was lost again: would she ever find it by “searching for it down a brook”?


 

CHAPTER XXVI.

OATH-PLIGHT AND TROTH-PLIGHT.

AT the south end of Charlestown a small limestone brook relieved the sunny situation and watered some Virginia lawns, and near its turnpike bridge and ford was a mill and tannery, agreeable to the sight and smell, with the dripping water-wheel and the cord-piled bark. Here, wandering together, Quantrell and his three companions came upon a large wagon, and in it were Luther and Katy Bosler, and Nelly Harbaugh.

Lloyd rushed upon the party, and his later friends were surprised to see him not only kiss the slight, childish, large-eyed lass, but also kiss her sluggish-eyed, bovine-moving brother.

“Dear Katy, where did you come from?”

Luther answered, as Katy sprang again to Lloyd’s arms:

“Lloyd, we are huckstering a little. Te rules is against coming to Harper’s Ferry from Maryland, so we cross te pridge at Berlin and cross te mountain at Keyes’s Ferry, and we sell to te soldiers here.”

“Breaking the laws, bruder? And you a minister!”

“Such laws as Fergeenia has on this occasion,” replied Luther, dryly, “are te laws of insanity. Tere is no tariff petween te States of our Union, and I am an American citizen. If Fergeenia had petter laws, John Brown could have stayed at home.”

“What, sir!” exclaimed Mr. Beall. “Is this your return for Virginia hospitality?”

“I am feeding Fergeenia, I think,” replied Luther, plainly. “Terefore, I am not guilty of any inhospitality. What one thinks, he is responsible to himself and his Maker for.”

“There are things thought,” exclaimed Booth, sternly, “which are worse than bold crimes.”

“Assuredly,” answered Luther, “and that is why I have no tisguises. I do not come here and agree with everypody and pe a spy. I say te man who is in te jail, to-day, is truer to justice than te judge upon te bench! Te plood he shed I do not approve of — put we, Lloyd, haf seen innocent plood shed too. Remember te old daddy on te mountain, dying to get to freedom—”

“O Lloyd,” cried Katy, “your fader has pought Ashby, and we’ve prought him to Charlestown; he’s in a Tunker family’s house, close py!”

“And here’s a letter from your father, Lloyd,” Nelly Harbaugh cried, returning a most respectful and admiring look Mr. Booth gave her. “We expected to find you, before long.”

As Lloyd read the letter, Booth engaged Nelly Harbaugh in conversation, and Hugh Fenwick, the semi-fledged priest, talked, with deference, to Katy Bosler; while Mr. Beall interrogated Luther Bosler in his intense, unrelieved way, and with a fierceness his low tones just concealed. The letter said:

“My son, I have bought you another slave at your request. I present him to you, according to such law as there is for property in our fellow-kind. Your own money I keep for you. The cube of human bondage is Golgotha. Find that word in your dictionary, and don’t forget it! I sincerely hope John Brown will be hanged as he is too valuable to live — like the prize steer. To spare his life would give Virginia another generation to patronize this Union. I hear that you are enlisted among the cavalier train-bands; I expected as much from you, my son, and I would rather see you walk promptly to your place, in the files of slavery and disunion, than to remain of an uncertain mind. The quicker every arms-bearing man is resolved, the speedier will be the issue. The request I make of you is, not to bestow your heart anywhere at present; and, as for your hand, remember that your mother’s pride of family was her only sin.   Your father, ABEL QUANTRELL.”

When Lloyd, with feelings of affection, anger, and distress, folded this letter, he was drawn to Luther Bosler’s side, and to Mr. Beall, browbeating Luther. The words he heard were:

“I can have you whipped, and drummed across the river, for the sentiments you express!”

“Do so. Us Tunker brethren are numerous in this valley. They have never aroused to the voice of conscience upon this subject. Perhaps they might, if you would whip one of their ministers, like a slave.”

Luther’s countenance, as he spoke calmly before the pinched, pallid, and tortured arrogance of the Anglo-Celt, bore no ill resemblance to one of the rougher Christian disciples under the whip-master.

“Stop them!” commanded Nelly Harbaugh to Booth; “Luther is my friend, and shall not be imposed upon by that man.”

“For you I will interfere,” answered Booth; “your friend must be a gentleman.”

By the aid of Fenwick, who saw Katy’s anxiety, Booth and Quantrell appeased the combatants, and they went to see the negro Ashby, whose unfortunate arrival had given Quantrell a new subject of annoyance.

He was at a Dunker family’s humble house on an unfrequented cross-street, and, as they entered, an officer came close after to the door, to arrest a negro suspected of having voluntarily given aid to John Brown, and borne arms under him, and accused also of invading the State of Virginia to carry off a person held to ceaseless servitude — to wit, the author of his own being. The penalty for the first of these offenses was death; of the second, imprisonment for life. The negro Ashby, sustained by his religious ecstasy, heard of the fate awaiting him with a dignity surprising to Lloyd Quantrell.

“Mosster,” he said to Lloyd, “I’m yours, and I don’t want you to lose the money I’m bought with; but I’m tired of life. My ole mommy died when she heard of daddy’s end. I wants to go in de cell with Green and Copeland and be hanged, and go to glory!”

“He ought to be hanged!” spoke Beall, with smothered fire of indignation. “He confesses to bearing arms.”

“Oh,” cried Katy Bosler, “hard man! He saved my dear Lloyd’s life. When you come to die, maype a black man’s love may pe your only friend!”

“Mr. Booth,” cried Nelly Harbaugh, “you go to the door and deceive the constable, while Lloyd gets the negro off. — He’s worth all you paid for him, Lloyd; and, if he’s hanged, the law won’t pay you.”

“You shall be obeyed,” answered Booth; “if the constable persists, I’ll throw him out of the house, and my Richmond company will stand by me!”

Quantrell started with the negro through the back garden, and led him by the winding creek to the railway, and on toward the north; and, meantime, Katy Bosler threw herself upon Mr. John Beall, and by entreaties prevailed upon his modesty, until Booth came in and reported the officer to have been thrown off the scent. Mr. Booth claimed a kiss for his good offices, which Katy called on Nelly Harbaugh to bestow. In a little while Beall’s sense of Virginia hospitality overcame his severity, and he took a gentle interest in Katy, whose merciful nature had also greatly affected “Father” Hugh Fenwick.

Nelly Harbaugh, with a strong interest in these young worldly men, influenced Katy to prevail over Luther and let them both remain in Charlestown till his return with another load of provisions.

Luther’s merchant instincts were now fully aroused, in view of this unexpected home-market and the calls of his approaching married life, and he kissed his affianced good-by and started toward Harper’s Ferry.

Next day Lloyd Quantrell entered his father’s house in Baltimore. It stood in Old Town, as that part of the city to the northeast was called, across the tumbling Jones’s Falls, and as he approached it he passed the residence of the Booth family in the same part of the city — a broad, brick dwelling with marble base.

Quiet and comfort were the expression of this semi-neglected part of Baltimore, once the seat of fashion. The dwelling of Abel Quantrell had been the town-house of his wife’s old colonial family, whose frequent relations with politics and finance brought them to Baltimore from across the bay, to live a portion of the year, and here, dazzled with the eloquence and independent nature of Lloyd’s father, the heiress naturalized him into Maryland by a marriage, but found him half an alien to her heart.

The same longing with which she died, to have the full and absolute love of her husband, her athletic son had inherited; and now he came hungry to his father’s door for a father’s love, after all the mighty experiences of Harper’s Ferry.

After he had bestowed the slave, Quantrell approached his father’s library, and heard men’s voices within. The first voice was that of the new Western senator, Edgar Pittson, saying:

“Depend upon it, they will force their convention early, and continue the excitement at Charlestown, Virginia, until the Southern heart comes all fired with passion to that convention, and they will hold it at Charleston in South Carolina. They will there demand a Southern presidential candidate as security for slavery, and break up the convention rather than take a Western man; and after having left everything in suspense, they will convene again in Baltimore, to capture this State by the alternative threat of breaking up the Union. Can Maryland be relied upon, Mr. Davis?”

“Yes,” said a musical yet nervous voice, like a bass-violin’s; “although the Native-American cause is gone, it will answer still in Maryland to compel the Democracy here to profess a Union spirit. This night we show our power in Monument Square. Come, and you will see how soiled is the outer fringe of slavery’s garment. I must use the rowdy to save Baltimore to the Union; for Baltimore is Maryland.”

“Anything, Davis,” said the voice of Abel Quantrell. “Sho! use anything to keep the deluge back. The cube of the cut-throat may be the military genius, though I doubt it. The square of a riot may be a battle for the Union, though I fear not. But you are all there is of Maryland until the north star moves over Baltimore, and then you may throw off your dark-lantern mask and show the Know-nothing to be the Emancipator!”

“I am consuming for the hour,” said Mr. Davis, in low, deep tones; “I saw no way to keep back the Loco-foco power in Baltimore but by catering to this Native-American prejudice. The naturalized foreigners always joined the Democracy, and for that I hated them. The devil shall have Maryland and me, before we shall be Democratic prey!”

“I sympathize with you, Mr. Davis,” spoke Edgar Pittson; “the time is a shifting one, and we need all the ground we can get to stand on. We shall nominate early, also — not later than next May — and our candidate, I think, will be Lincoln.”

“Oh, no — Seward!”

“Sho!” said Abel Quantrell; “put not your new wine in old bottles; Seward has been too long in honors and office, Henry; he lives too far East. Go to the West, where John Brown lived and thought so long and undauntedly, until his old teeth fell out and grew up armed boys. The cube of old political success is compromise. We have had one Fillmore. I wish we could run Henry Winter Davis — or John Brown.”

“Or Abel Quantrell,” added Mr. Davis. “Old friend, you have been a great comfort to me in my lonely battle here, made under my semi-false position. Your son has been my devoted follower.”

“My son,” spoke Abel Quantrell; “what pride I take in my son! How brave he is — how indifferent to the world; how well he honors his father and his mother! Surely his days shall be long in the land which the Lord, the God of Freedom, will yet give to him. Oh, let me hear the sounding of his voice, like Isaac waiting for his Esau’s tones!”

“Father, I am safe: God bless you, sir!” Lloyd Quantrell cried, as he threw himself at his father’s feet.

Abel Quantrell, moved somewhat by the sudden onset, put his hands upon Lloyd’s head, mechanically and coldly.

“The hair is the hair of Esau,” he said, “but the voice is the voice of Jacob.”


 

CHAPTER XXVII.

KNOW-NOTHINGS.

“FATHER, don’t treat me so. I have been in great troubles, and the hope of seeing you, sir, made me want hard to live. I do want to lead a better life, and I have found a pure young woman who has promised to be my wife; and both of us require a father’s blessing.”

“Sho, Lloyd!” Abel Quantrell cried, “you have learned man-kissing among the Dunkers — woman-kissing as well, I compute. That’s where I learned it, too, beneath the Dunker caps. Like father, like son! But you never imitate my better examples, Lloyd. I dare say you hate old John Brown, and the torch of insurrection he waved.”

“I hate his cause with all my soul! I admire his courage. Wicked people set him on.”

Abel Quantrell, reaching for his stick, leaned upon Mr. Pittson.

“Edgar,” said he, “resent that statement. I expect you to do it.”

“No, sir — Lloyd spoke with perfect honesty. Your son may have the indignations of his birthplace, as you brought here others from the free Green Mountains. The incursion of John Brown was supported by no law whatever, except that which he and a few others made out of air. I am a senator under the law, and can take no part in such a rebellion, though it may have started, like Satan’s, in heaven! I do not say all were wicked people who advised John Brown, but I do say that the calm and legal steps we Republicans were taking, to manœuvre slavery away from its respectable supports, have been pestered by John Brown’s incursion, so that we are being manœuvred by slavery away from our own strong base, in the outraged conservatism of the country. At this moment Mason, Davis, Bright, and others in the Senate, are preparing for an investigating committee upon John Brown’s self-commissioned and gratuitous act, with the purpose of destroying the Republican party.”

“They can’t do it,” Mr. Davis remarked, rising up. “The more stirring up the slavery-Democracy makes, the more Republicans there will be.”

“Mr. Davis,” spoke Lloyd Quantrell, with modesty yet directness — “often have I listened to your burning speeches with the feeling that you were sincere as truth itself. I never knew that the Native-American mask covered a Black Republican!”

“Then learn it of me” — Mr. Davis turned imperiously on Lloyd — “that I would rather wear the mask of the devil than lose my hold on Maryland, to help the Roger Taney Democracy to power! Yes, I would rather defend old Brown himself, for invading my own late home, Virginia, and support Horace Greeley for President here in Baltimore.”

The impetuosity of Mr. Davis’s reply showed that he had drunk at the well of Abel Quantrell’s deep but boiling temperament. He was a Baltimorean in all respects — of well-nursed mustache, skin where the bright and sallow, the sanguine and bilious contended; aristocratic lines of countenance, a little pointed, perhaps hardened, by impulses which had turned to prejudices, and party combats which had soured to hate, and by a certain bluntness somewhere between volatility and sullenness; but, when his nature rose, a spirit of power and magnificence possessed him like the dark and gold of the oriole bird, whose yellow wings of flight flash from a sable breast.

Time and faculty, resistance and a somewhat false position, had muddied the springs of a generous nature, and kept him, with the instincts of liberty and refinement, a prince among brawlers, and he had come to recognize the omnipotence of events as above all reasonable endeavors to extricate himself from his momentary environment; and, therefore, the John Brown raid amused him, if it also perplexed him, because, while weaning young followers, like Lloyd Quantrell, from his side, it brought the terror of a general insurrection of the slaves to his political enemies.

Before Lloyd could excuse himself for rudeness within his father’s walls, he, like Mr. Davis, was arrested by a strange and aggressive attitude of Abel Quantrell toward Senator Edgar Pittson.

The old man had concentrated the whole of his satyr-like attention upon this slender and shining-visaged guest; his mouth was set in the deepest scorn and resolution, and his hollow nostrils seemed breaking into articulate speech, so full of expression were they; and his faded eyes caught the dead, black shadow of his wig, and looked on Edgar Pittson as the ghost of Samuel from the tomb might have scowled on Saul.

One hand was upon his cane, his back against a table, and with the other hollow, almost transparent hand, he seemed holding something to throw into his visitor’s face.

Mr. Pittson did not return the look of Abel Quantrell with either defiance or astonishment, but stood with his head slightly bowed and his countenance almost negative, like one receiving a sentence with resignation, or, as Lloyd Quantrell thought, like that passive respect with which the young Smiths on the mountains had heard the lecture of John Brown when our hero first made their acquaintance.

Abel Quantrell slowly lowered his menacing hand and put it into his bosom, and, after a moment’s waiting, spoke:

“Do you dare hold those compromising sentiments in my presence! — you, from the unfettered, unconstraining West, which has honored you above your condition, and put the future of liberty and of labor in your trust?”

“Strange,” said Senator Pittson, “that you radicals quarrel with every road but your own. Prudent men of the multitude, like Lincoln and Seward, accustomed to the training and restraints of legislatures and courts, will be required to save your country.”

“‘Satan’s rebellion’; ‘the wicked people who set Brown on’ — you know what persons those stigmas include. You have defamed—”

“Not one,” Senator Pittson replied; “none that you can mean, by word or thought.”

As the two men faced each other, the moral spirit of the younger rising and the physical rage of the older subsiding, both Mr. Davis and Lloyd were attracted by a something common to them both.

“Come,” said Mr. Davis, “we must not fall out on mere terms!”

The old man sank into a seat, his late excitement gone.

That evening Lloyd Quantrell strolled into a liquor-store in Baltimore, kept by one Martin, a companionable person from the old St. Mary’s Peninsula of Maryland, and together they attended the great Native-American meeting in Monument Square. Such an outpouring of rude yet well-attired and solvent native men later times never knew; it was the apotheosis of the “rowdy,” that culmination of physical spirit and national jealousy on the brink of ideal issues and against insoluble foreignisms.

The cold German, the mettlesome Irishman, had swarmed during ten years upon the settled land, and the power of their naturalization was already felt at the ballot-box. It was not in the nature of American boys to submit.

Great cities like New York had passed under the aggressive strangers’ yoke, and Baltimore had been made the citadel of resistance. The mastering soul of slavery partly set this later contest on, but courage and patriotism were no less the instincts of the rowdy; his fathers had made a land, strangers were unmaking or remaking, and the very Jews of native stock were marching in the “American” lines; the Germans of eighteenth-century descent were deadly enemies of the nineteenth century’s German importations; the latest Irishmen had taught fighting, and were getting the worst of it from Irishmen’s native grandsons.

Toward the tall white pillar to General Washington the defiant and triumphant “Native Americans” moved in lines of sword and fire, in clubs, without any other purpose than battle, by fist or weapon, by steel or shot. The insignias on their transparent lanterns told the purpose and the degree of refinement of the time: “The Blood-Tubs,” “The Red Necks,” “The Pioneers,” “The Regulators,” “The Tigers,” “The Ashlands,” “The Spartans,” “The Black Snakes,” “The Gladiators,” “The Rip-Raps,” “The Eubolts,” “The Plug-Uglies.” With battle-axes, and in red shirts or grenadier hats, they marched as grim as executioners.

As these, soldiers in all but discipline, strode past Lloyd Quantrell, many a torch or awl-spear was brandished toward him, and the shout raised, “Come, Lloyd!” “Why ain’t you marching, big one?”

He shook his head, and his heart was cold.

Finally came his own club, “The Cock Robins,” marching from curb to curb, in broad lines of perfect form and step, sons of men of superior condition, and as confident of their righteous principles as guildsmen in cities ever have been, from Genoa to Ghent; their blazing sulphur and shooting rockets brought Washington’s statue, on the summit of its candle, out into the prominence of a saint upon the Roman altar, and to every lad there he seemed giving them his benediction. This excess of light fell suddenly on the broad shoulders and rugged head of the idol of the club, Lloyd Quantrell, rising upon his long, straight limbs in sight of them all, the humanization of the cock they marched beneath.

A mighty cheer arose.

“Hip! hip!” from the captain.

“Hurrah!” roared the two hundred throats.

As these loud cheers, repeated thrice, seemed the very onset of battle, the young man’s heart swelled high, and seemed to him to burst. Recollections of a hundred combats and sacrifices, of warlike friendships and assistances, of courage put to deadly tests, and convictions never till now disturbed, brought a feeling like exile and apostasy to Lloyd Quantrell’s soul!

“Come! come! fall in!” the fierce command rang down the lines, addressed to him. The flaming column swayed and stopped; the fifes and drums were stilled.

He waved his arms, so that his elbows might hide his eyes, and, while the tears streamed down his cheeks, he called in broken but loud and manly tones:

“No! never — any more — old boys!”

The latest form of prig may smile at pathos here, unconscious of his own father’s service in just these associations, the rudest and most ingenuous of his life, perhaps, when his country was no more to be reasoned about and sublimated than his sweetheart or his mother, but its profanation by skeptical philosopher or foreign savage, alike, brought down the swift clinched hand, and armed young organizations, like the call in the Marseillaise song.

“What! what do you say?” hoarse, excited words broke from the ranks.

“I say, ‘No!’ No Henry Winter Davis! No John Brown abolitionists for me!”

The lines were broken; the clubsmen rushed upon their refractory member and seized him with rude affection; a torch was forced into his hand, and he was pushed into the ranks.

Amid a wild huzza the music and the march started up, and before Quantrell could dry his eyes or find an initial point of rebellion, he was in front of the great square base of the monument; and when he looked up to see Washington at the summit, resigning his commission at Annapolis, he saw his father, Abel Quantrell, cutting off the view, and introducing Henry Winter Davis as “the Samuel Chase of Maryland to-day!”

The orator stood forth in the August of life, barely turned his forty-second year, and pride and preoccupation worked together in his countenance till it seemed to have caught the Voltaire-like mischief of old Quantrell’s wigged and upholstered face, as the latter leaned near, like a statue in wax, with his bloodless palm in his shirt-bosom. The Governor of Maryland, Mr. Hicks, of the Eastern Shore, stood wonderingly by; the Mayor of Baltimore, Mr. Swann, a Virginian by birth, looked on approvingly; the senator from Maryland, Mr. Kennedy, educated in that Virginia town where John Brown now lay in jail, presided at the meeting. Over their heads was suspended a shoemaker’s awl as long as a sword.

The awl was the favorite symbol of the monster meeting. Near by was a blacksmith’s forge upon a wagon, hammering out awls; transparencies bore signs like “Third Ward — awl right”; “Seventh Ward — the awl is useful in the hand of an artist”; “Eleventh Ward — the votes awl counted.”

What was this awl, the peaceful tool of the cobbler, doing at this fierce political meeting?

It was the stealthy and convenient weapon to punch intrusive foreigners with, as they crowded upon the polling-places; and by that instrument, here publicly recognized in the presence of Governor, mayor, senator, and congressman, the city of Baltimore had been governed several years. The slavery question had broken up the old national Whig party, and out of its ruins an irresolute local majority had turned their fury upon the foreign opposition.

Mr. Davis addressed himself to the connection between the Governor of Virginia and the foreigners; for that Governor had checked Native-Americanism by his election, raising the slavery question to the fore-front. A man no less dogmatic had put the slavery question under his nose at the point of a pike.

“Pikes and awls, Lloyd!” spoke the liquor-dealer, Martin, at Quantrell’s elbow. “Won’t it be guns next?”

“The awl must make shoes for soldiers soon, I fear,” Quantrell replied.

Never had Mr. Davis spoken as he did that night, his seat in Congress being at issue, and the accusation of covert abolitionism already raised against him. He denounced the opposite party as “hoping to retain power by the fears of one half the people for the existence of slavery, and of the other half for the existence of the Union. . . . False to their mission,” said he, “as the portress of hell to hers, and ready for the purpose of retaining their hold on power to let loose on this blessed land the Satan of demoniacal passion! . . . I am stronger in my district,” he exclaimed, “and in the State of Maryland, in any appeal I may see fit to make to the people, than all the banded power of the Legislature bound into one man.”

Robust, scornful, fierce, magnificent, his oratory and temper were the exact mirror of the meeting he addressed, and proved the dangerous power of the public platform or “stump” to educate crowds. Had he ordered those men to demolish any public or private-building, they would have done so after a few sentences from Henry Winter Davis; and yet this man, in what he was truly aiming at, was as lonely before those masses as Galileo with his convictions of science before the superstitious priests. He could abuse his enemies, but never advocate freedom and opportunity for black men.

It was this sense of moral impotence in Baltimore which made his sentences fall like the lash of flagellation upon himself; and, when he had done, he looked at the electrified thousands as if he would like to kick them out of his sight, and nothing delighted them like that expression.

As Lloyd Quantrell, with his sensibilities all disturbed and his enthusiasm frozen, passed along that night into the Old Town quarter, a man addressed him in a foreign accent:

“I do not beg. I give you zis ring.”

A priestly-looking man, in shabby priestly dress, was speaking. A little ring was on his finger, and he held it under a street-lamp, continuing:

“I tell you why I do zis: I starve for bread.”

“Foreigner!” thought Quantrell, his Native-American repulsions not all gone. “Why do you come here, friend, to live on us?”

“I came for justeece,” exclaimed the man; “I want justeece!”

The man’s black eyes shone; his face was thin and haggard. He pressed the little ring into Quantrell’s hand.

“Only two dollair,” he said; “not to sell it you, but to borrow on it. I know you, sare; you live there.”

He pointed to Abel Quantrell’s house.

“Let’s see,” said Lloyd; “two dollars. I have only got one, but I can borrow another here, for I see June Booth at the window.”

He stood opposite Booth’s residence, and at the open window thereof sat the very likeness of the noted dead tragedian, smoking a cigar. As he stepped toward this person, the stranger cried:

“No, no! Not one cent from there! Nevair!”

He was gone, with Lloyd’s dollar in his hand, and the ring left in Lloyd’s palm.


 

CHAPTER XXVIII.

NEW FACES IN THE VALLEY.

HAVING sent his new slave Ashby out of harm’s way, to be the foreman of his other slaves in the lower Potomac country — forwarding him thither, with Katy’s dog Fritz, through Lloyd’s man-dealing uncle — Quantrell returned to Charlestown and witnessed the conclusion of John Brown’s small, wide-surging act. Nothing had happened in the history of English America to produce the same profound impression, except the defeat of Braddock and the treason of Arnold; and John Brown’s work had the mystery and subtlety of the last and was followed by the panic of the first.

The magnitude of slavery’s interest — hardly less than four thousand million dollars — the sophistical statesmanship and political economy created about it, which involved the ridicule and self-respect of leaders long self-deluded; the peace and safety of white society, and the patriotism of compromises, this beggar-man had treated as common obstructions and idolatries, like some captain of Mohammed bursting into an old religion and state, cimeter in hand.

Beggar he was, by all the evidence, having begged from town to town the few dollars for his expedition, and procured his arms by a misapprehension almost like deceit; with neither scrip nor raiment for his intrepid journey, no change of clothes, no provision for his needy family in the cold mountains of New York on winter’s brink; and recruiting chiefly from the children of his loins, and holding none of them to be better than any vagrant negro in his command.

Lloyd Quantrell had followed John Brown so closely that he, almost alone, with his Vermont father’s business eye, discerned the reality of this naked martyr.

His friends, Booth and Beall, adopted the current view — that a great conspiracy existed, of which Brown’s band was only the courageous tail, and therefore they held the North responsible for a private deed.

Quantrell saw in John Brown’s lonely act the isolation and exposure of slavery, which could incite the poor Northern whites against it — those who, possessing the vote-power, would compel the Northern rich to follow them speedily; he began dimly to discern the meaning of the distant Kansas contest — wage-labor against forced labor — he saw that his father’s work was bearing seed, and that abolitionists were no longer the philosophers and the idealists only, but the simple, the deadly farmers of the North and West.

He resigned himself to the universal fear, and resolved, for his property, his prejudices, and his indignation, to act with that Democrafic party he had so long hated, and to proselytize for it among his Native-American friends.

He felt the clearer to do this because his father had written: “I expected as much of you, my son; and I would rather see you walk promptly to your place in the files of slavery and disunion than to remain of an uncertain mind.”

“Dear father!” Lloyd thought, “nothing he has ever said to me seemed so warm with compliment! We can differ and respect each other more.”

Then there came the desire of his father, added to the same letter, with the confidence of a chivalric opponent:

“The request I make of you is not to bestow your heart, and remember your mother’s pride of family.”

No other command had Abel Quantrell ever laid upon his son, who had many a time longed for a father’s warm commands.

While other sons had chafed under parental restriction, this son, deeply affectionate and consciously his father’s mental inferior, had pined for obligations and for the love which imposes them upon a son.

“My heart,” cried Lloyd in the depths of his soul, “is gone beyond my reach. Can I give my hand to Katy and break my father’s sole injunction? No, I must wait. I will not disobey him.”

The disturbance effected by John Brown’s raid in the old settled lines and communities near by, hardly the local scandal-monger could enumerate or follow. It created an imperial theme where, for a hundred years, the torpor of slavery and the milking of cows had blended with each other’s patriarchal thoughts, as when the herds and herdmen of Lot and Abraham once looked up and saw rising from the plain of Jordan the alluring mirage of the sinful cities of the plain.

New, willful people came and camped by the Shenandoah. The girls saw finer and bolder men than had filled the measure of their ambition. Soldier-clothes invaded homes of piety and humility, and, while the women yielded to the trance of idleness and compliment, their fathers and brothers grew fuddled with strangers, and heard new doctrines of morals and disloyalty.

What a temptation for Nelly Harbaugh when she found her society desired by the actor Booth!

Luther had arranged with Nelly to baptize her into his church, and his loving mastership had already begun to soothe her soul to peace, when here appeared a wiser admirer yet, all eloquent with youth, beauty, and worldliness.

By Luther’s sunburned and unshaved face and rough Dunker cloth the form and countenance of Booth seemed like a prince’s in military uniform beside some giant peasant-recruit of his hereditary subjects.

The large, tender eyes of Luther were worth all Mr. Booth’s refinements, but too often of late they had worn the dull coin light of avarice. He had seen a great, neighboring opportunity to make money, and his heavy Bavarian-French nature had kindled to it like his military forefathers to the stranger’s loot.

“Miss Nelly,” spoke Booth, as he was giving the girls a supper at the principal hotel, with ale and wine among its fall birds and new venison, “do you think I would go away to make five dollars a load huckstering, and leave for a single day a noble face like this, fit for Queen Semiramis? No, I would be too proud and jealous!”

“Hush!” said Nelly, as Booth looked with all his serious and insinuating interest into her face. “Not one word against my lover. You do not know how hard it is to make five dollars.”

“Tell me,” said Booth; “I feel such an interest in you. It is the interest I would feel in a noble treasure hidden for years in the mountains!”

“It took me,” Nelly answered, with a cold blush of modesty, like one at last looked down, “six whole months to make five dollars, when I wanted it to buy a pair of shoes!”

“Oh, shame!” said Booth; “and I was making my three dollars a day as second walking-gentleman!”

“Your father left you that rich chance; I have heard of him. But I could only make thirty cents a day, and could only find work at seeding and harvest, hardly four weeks in all; and rain, or too many laborers, or woman’s ailing, would throw me out a day here and a day there, so it was winter before I had my shoes.”

“And dress becomes you so wonderfully! I have paid much attention to dress for ladies. Nelly, I could make you the sensation of Richmond or Washington — yes, of Baltimore!”

As his eye roved over her fine throat and commanding profile, her abundant length of hair and length of trunk, Booth clasped his hands and seemed to tremble.

“You actor!” Nelly spoke low, with her eye on tender Katy, to whom Mr. Fenwick was modestly attentive — “am not to be carried off my feet by your artful praise, for in my own land and station I have been courted by many.”

“Let me see your native region,” Booth appealed; “I hear it is not far from here. Though you are engaged, and to a real good fellow, who will take all the care of you he knows, perhaps I may find your counterpart in the Catoctin Valley, and not go away all broken up. What lovers have you had? You almost tempt me to turn farmer.”

“I have had all the poor young men around to come to see me and propose; nearly all the widowers of a marriageable turn; several mechanics; a preacher out of nearly every sect. The merchants’ drummers from the city generally want to run away with me. More than one married man has offered to be divorced to get me.”

“And temptations often?” Booth spoke, with the gentlest respect.

“No; insults, but no temptations. I always knew my value; I know it now, sir!”

She turned to her admirer with the reserve and bodily self-respect of a greater person than one in a half-cotton print. He did not flinch, however, but distended his eyes in the greater rapture, slowly saying:

“No woman on the American stage can do that!”

“What?”

“Give the expression to language that you can do, Miss Harbaugh. There is a fortune for you, and a world-wide fame as an actress!”

“Oh, do not tell me that!” the woman said, fighting down another rapture in her own face — “do not be a devil to me! I tell you, sir, nothing can separate me from that child’s brother, to whom I am engaged!”

She pointed to Katy Bosler.

“I know it,” said Mr. Booth, with a shadow of deep regret; “not even your duty to the talents which nature gave you for a mighty life!”

Katy, no prude in the joy of her new love, readily yielded to the invitation of the two young men to visit her home, in which her pride and hospitality were innocently excited; and Lloyd’s absence she did not weigh in her duty to his friends. Mr. Booth obtained two buggies through Mr. Beall’s good offices, who had been much taken with Katy’s goodness and beauty; Hugh Fenwick driving Katy, and John Booth driving Nelly, they left Charlestown the day Quantrell spent in Baltimore.

Eight miles to Harper’s Ferry and eight to Crampton’s Gap let them down over the mountain rim into the brown and gold bowl of Catoctin Valley; and, as they moved toward Jake Bosler’s farm in the exhilarating air and restful sceneries, the young priest-student spoke to Katy of religious life, and love made benevolent to human creatures.

“Are you, too, of te old Dutch like us, Mr. Fenwick?”

“Say ‘Father Fenwick’ — it’s more agreeable to me from you, Katy; you are so like a dear child. If you can’t say that, say ‘Hugh’; for I must be either your spiritual or your familiar friend, and ‘Mister’ is neither.”

“Oh, then, I’ll say ‘Father Fenwick.’ Tell me about marrying people and about wedding-rings.”

“Dear Kate! marriage never was sanctified till after Luther’s death.”

He crossed himself, speaking of Luther, and Katy cried:

“Luter dead! Our Luter?”

“Martin Luther, the apostate, Katy.”

“Oh, I guess I didn’t know him, Father Fenwick.”

“Marriage was first celebrated in the church by Innocent III, having been a mere civil contract before that; but the Council of Trent, meeting while Friar Luther” — crossing himself again — “passed to his flames, ordered and fixed it fast.”

“Oh, it did?” observed Katy; “I’m glad of that.”

“Then, my child, marriage was made one of the seven sacraments, conferring grace, and forbidden to clerics; and all clandestine marriage, also, was forbid.”

“Seven sacraments?” observed Katy; “not all at once, I hope! Not wine seven times of a Sunday?”

“No, little Pope Innocent; marriage was then taken into the church, like the dove taken back into the ark, and made one of seven holy things, like Penance and Holy Order.”

“I learned a little penance at school one winter,” thoughtfully added Katy; “but our Luter he’s a penmans that’s wonderful! Luter can shade letters like a sign-painter. Gracious! don’t you squeeze me that-a way!”

“Kate, you are such virgin mold and mind, I would like to educate you. No flower transplanted would grow more nobly. Oh, if I had you at old Saint Thomas’s Manor, far down the Potomac, I at the Jesuits’ old palace there and you in the pretty school right by, my studies would be relaxed by the care of your education, and, like the Carmelite sisters who lie buried in the garden, I could lean above you, my sweet sister, and guide your soul and mind!”

“Eferypody wants to make a nun of me, Father Fenwick; Job Snowberger is crazy for me to come to Snow Hill, and you want me to go to Saint Thomas’s; but I want to marry Lloyd.”

The broad-chested, fresh-skinned, hale young novitiate looked at Katy pityingly:

“We are forbidden to interfere in courtships, but Lloyd, my Katy, is dreadfully robust for your gentle nature! I grant his open temper, but are you a being prepared for him, to wear with him in the long round of life?”

“Oh, maype I can learn some time, Father Fenwick! Maype you might help me. My gracious! tere is a horseshoe in te road.”

Before Hugh Fenwick could stop, Kate was over the buggywheel and back again with the cast shoe.

Hoofeisa! That’s good luck always,” she cried, “and now, maype, I’ll find my wedding-ring.”

A growl and loud bark came from under the buggy-seat, and the pointer-dog Albion burst from under Katy’s gown and jumped into the road and ran after Mr. Booth’s carriage, into which Nelly Harbaugh had him taken.

Hugh Fenwick now displayed his prying scholarship on the subject of finger-rings, mixing his traditions and science superstitiously, like the young Jesuit he would be.

“The ring, my mountain flower, is in our church fidei sacramentum, the badge of fidelity. Levinus Leminus held, and so did Gellius, a holy philosopher, that an artery or vital nerve stretched from the ring-finger to the heart.”

“My heart’s empty,” sobbed Katy, “ever since I took it off.”

“That was a grave error, little penitent; many married women will never remove their betrothal ring even to wash their hands. In Spain the giving of a ring is a legal claim to a husband in her who can show the ring. The Holy Father wears the fisherman’s ring, and seals his letters with it.”

“Yes,” cried Katy, “and a wedding-ring cures fits and a sty on the eye, and fetches up girls out of a swoon. No girl without a ring-finger, to put te ring on, can marry safe. Te fortune-teller told me I should lose my ring, and then she took it from me herself. I can only find it py te Bible now, and I must find te Bible in a water-brook where there never was any books, Father Fenwick.”

Katy’s head leaned convulsively upon the gentle divinity student, who told her of the solemn beauty of his church’s ceremony, the priest in rich pontificals, the clerks in surplices carrying the holy-water pot, the basin, and the sprinkler to bless the golden marriage-ring.

“‘Ego conjungo vos in matrimonium. Our help is in the name of the Lord. Lord bless this ring, which we bless in thy name, that she who shall wear it, keeping true faith unto her spouse, may abide in thy peace and will!’”

Hugh Fenwick made of a silver ring he wore a circle around Katy’s finger as he pronounced this copy of the ceremony, and, blessing it with his finger, he kissed the bruised little hand and then the lips of Katy, trembling himself.

The pious nature of the child was swayed to the strange, strong words, and, seeking about her for additional help, she found the horseshoe at her feet, and held it above both their heads.

“Father Hugh, you’ll marry me to Lloyd, won’t you, if nobody else will?”

Katy clung to him in the emotions of fierce will and fear alike. He felt her large, swimming eyes shine in on him with power.

“Why me, Katy? I am a Roman Catholic — a Jesuit to be — and not of your mountain sects.”

“Lloyd is a Catholic. I will pe what he wants me. I’m nopody, and God gif him to me. Oh, promise me you will pe our friend!”

He hesitated as the carriage stopped at Jake Bosler’s gate.

“Ha, Fenwick! What’s this — a conquest?”

It was Booth who spoke, seeing Katy with her arm around Fenwick’s neck.

“Promise me!” cried Katy, indifferent to who looked on. “I will not let you go.”

“Yes, yes; if it ever becomes my duty I will be your ghostly friend.”

Luther Bosler and his father had just come in from the field, and Luther’s wagon was loaded for another huckstering trip to Charlestown. Nelly Harbaugh saw that her affianced was worn and haggard with his double labors, and she took him in her long, strong arms with real affection, sharpened by almost maternal compunction.

“My poor, willing slave, are you laboring so hard for me? I am not worthy of it, darling. But I have thought of you with a full heart. Oh, I love you so painfully, so fearfully, so selfishly!”

Fenwick and Booth looked on with surprise at the exhibition of devotion and tears from this late worldly beauty of the country, and Booth said to Fenwick, so that Nelly heard him:

“Every attitude she takes shows the natural artist.”

“Well it may, sir,” cried Nelly, turning on Booth, with tears like rage as well as pity in her telling eyes; “if Nature ever taught me well, it was to love this man!”

She threw her arms around him again, and, standing almost to his own height, kissed him and still wept.

“Dearest,” Luther said, tenderly, “why do you cry? We have not parted many hours, but in an hour more I must go away again. Tere is money to be made, and Decemper is almost here, when we will pecome man and wife.”

“December? Oh, my love, my teacher, it is too far away! I am afraid something will happen. We are not what we were in peace and content, before all these strangers came.”

“Not what we were, Nelly? Revolutions could not alter me when I have started out. Tisturbance is love’s mutuality, driving us together, like when te Indians infaded our Dutch forefathers, and te women and men tefended each other. This revolution is for our good. Men will see te danger of slavery, and times will grow better when it is gone.”

“Who wants to go?” pleaded Nelly Harbaugh. “I have been a slave, too, working in the corn-fields among the men. It was my joy and independence, and I would be your slave, also, for all the hard and steady life of the farmer’s wife. But do not leave me so much! Do not love money more than you love me! Take me to Virginia with you to-day!”

“What, Nelly! Are you so impulsive? I thought you was keen and worldly. Time prings good discipline. Waiting is surely not hard for genuine love. Here are visitors, and we owe tem hospitality.”

He indicated Booth, who was looking critically on, and the dog Albion snapped at Nelly’s feet like another mentor. Jake Bosler remarked, vaguely:

“Eferyting coom right, maype. Bi’m-by.”

Booth spoke to Luther with manly equality, just cordial and no more; but to Luther’s father he was attentive and respectful, and he soon became the attractive personage of the farm. Hugh Fenwick hung the horseshoe over the dove’s nest, and heard the doves’ “coo-roo,” and remarked that the young doves were big enough to fly.

While Nelly and Katy went to make some special dessert dishes for the distinguished guests, Mr. Booth challenged Luther and Fenwick to gymnastic feats upon the lawn at the tree where the doves roosted.

He bared his arms, and the white muscles there seemed like blue-veined marble, and each great globe of sinews swelled like a human brain, as if the thinking culture of this young gladiator was in his arms, and not within his skull.

He raised himself upon the limb of the apple-tree, and, by alternate arms, singly, until his chin was higher than the bough; and he vaulted over a stone wall by one hand and wrist without running, and raised a grindstone to the level of his shoulders, none of the others being able to do the same; and he also outleaped them both upon the level — and so Nelly Harbaugh found him, with coat off and sleeves rolled up, the hair black and strong upon his arms and breast-bone, so that it might almost have been combed, and his knees slightly bowed, though not sufficient to affect his erect, compact stature.

“Why, sir,” cried Nelly Harbaugh, “you are training for the circus, and not for the theatre.”

“O Queen Nelly! I am training in the athletic school, like my father. He and Kean drove classical acting off by the splendor of their combats, dying all slashed to pieces and with broken blades, but fencing yet with hand and foot and tooth and nail.”

For the first time at Bosler’s farm the girls were taken into dinner, society-fashion, on the arms of Booth and Fenwick, to the blushing confusion of these twain; and Nelly and Katy saw with curiosity the strangers eating nimbly with their forks. Katy had always been told that it was politeness to eat with the back of her knife, instead of with the blade to the mouth, as Jake Bosler did. Jake, however, took no note of methods, except the method of the clock and of the sun-dial; and, passing up his plate for animal fuel, whereby to plow and sow, uttered the suggestion —

“Bi’m-by.”

Fenwick asked the blessing at Luther’s request, sectarianism being only superficial in this region, and the girls watched the intellectual play between the young men — the Jesuit, the Protestant pietist, and the Oriental-looking type of Booth, where may have been a distant trace of Jew. Luther and Booth were seeking to draw each other out, and Fenwick was the moderator between them — too prone to agree with both, as if some moral weakness remained in the fixed intentions of his clerical career.

Luther, on the whole, furnished the strong meat of the discourse, unsuspecting of Mr. Booth’s persuasive line of inquiry.

“You think, then, friend Luther, that John Brown was not altogether inexcusable?”

“Not excusable; for in our faith no man can do war and pe right, neither offering nor resenting violence. We submit, considering oppression the least of evils. But few do submit on principle, like us, and in human nature John Brown was te least selfish of soldiers. He had no interests at stake, no chance; nothing but te moral example of his failure and tespair.”

“A strait-jacket and lifetime in the lunatic asylum would suit him!” suggested Booth.

“He is too proud to take that refuge,” Luther said. “He resented it when te Ohio lawyers came to his help. That would be the meanest of all, and Governor Wise is too honoraple a man to put a sound head like John Brown’s among te maniacs. Te Scribes and Pharisees in their spite nefer offered to treat Jesus so.”

Hugh Fenwick was prompt to make the pious sign, and he exclaimed:

“Compare John Brown to Jesus?”

“But for Jesus no man would be in John Brown’s shoes now, saying over te words: ‘Take no thought for your life; for te morrow shall take thought for te things of itself, and sufficient unto te day is te evil thereof.’”

“Oh,” said Fenwick, “authority, not caprice, must order these things — Washington or Rome!”

“But tey never do. King George nefer ordered General Washington. Te authority that counts te sparrow’s fall said also, ‘Beware of men, for tey will deliver you up to te councils, and ye shall pe prought pefore governors and kings for My sake.’”

“O Luther,” Nelly Harbaugh sighed, “why don’t you choose a public life? It is so comforting to hear you talk.”

“Indeed it is,” said Mr. Booth; “he’s up in the lines, too! — But, Luther, wasn’t it great conceit for Captain Brown to take this stupendous task upon himself?”

“Ah!” exclaimed Fenwick, “the Puritan never goes to a confessor to assure his intentions. He is a secretive, treacherous mover!”

“Whoever does anything original is conceited, te dull and envious think. Columpus had no pusiness to find te New World. John Brown had no pusiness to cut at this tumor in our society. I haf been accused in our Tunker body of te conceit that I could preach, pecause I haf been elected. Only te greatest kind of man sees te universal, daily necessity; what eferypody else ought to have seen, but nefer did see — steam to save toil, lightning to save time, liberty to save sorrow. I wonder at John Brown, but te great conceit was his. These mountains will not hold his name!”

“Soon-down — Bi’m-by!” Jake Bosler spoke, rising and kissing Katy welcome home.

“Wait!” said Mr. Booth; “let me give you a recitation, Luther, before you leave us.”

As Booth arose, the doves beyond the windows rose also, from the crotches in the apple-tree, and took their migration to the South.

Mr. Booth repeated Hood’s “Bridge of Sighs,” standing at his place in the plain low room, with its cheap paint-grained cupboards and white plaster; and first he explained that it was the story of a poor girl abandoned by her lover, and found self-drowned in the muddy river.

Bending over the table, as over the drowned one, with his manful manner and serious white face, the actor delivered this, his favorite recitation, with a fervor and pathos that drew tears and sobs from Katy; and, between the stanzas, Jake Bosler could be heard to whinny, and to say, with reference either to temporal or everlasting things, and perhaps both:

Temmerlich!” (pitiful). “Bi’m-by! — Bi’m-by!”

Luther Bosler listened with a drop of dew in his eyes, like cloudy amethyst, and still kept his judgment upon the words; and Nelly Harbaugh came around and leaned on him, watching Booth with colder emotion:

“Fashioned so slenderly, young and so fair!” the victim of love and trust betrayed was raised in dumb show by the actor, and all her mutiny and disobedience, her dripping clothes like cerements, and water-oozing lips, her past dishonor and her residue of what was “pure womanly,” he revealed with delicate and tender respect.

Then, bending over his plate, Mr. Booth asked in intelligent wonderment, solicitously:

“Where was her home?
 Who was her father?
 Who was her mother?
 Had she a sister?
 Had she a brother?
 Or was there a dearer one
 Still, and a nearer one
 Yet, than all other?”

Nobly modulated, punctuated by his black-eyed glances, every pain of meaning opened wide like a wound held open till it could bleed, the poetry stuck in every throat but Booth’s, who next descended into speculations not less pathetic, because analyzing to the very nerves and household chords the causes of the outcast’s suicide. Her

“Feelings had changed —
 Love, by harsh evidence,
 Thrown from its eminence;
 Even God’s providence
 Seeming estranged. . . .

 She stood with amazement,
 Houseless by night— . . .

 Swift to be hurled —
 Anywhere, anywhere
 Out of the world!”

Here, rising to a wail, with eyes of simulated despair and arms describing the fateful leap from the bridge’s parapet, Booth saw Nelly Harbaugh, without a tear in her eyes, gazing at him in rapture. He knew that there was no art of betraying woman like reciting with sympathy woman’s betrayal, but this fine peasant-girl’s eyes showed none but intellectual sympathy with his effort, and the passion to enact like him.

He changed his tactics and assumed the more heroic form of recitation, giving his robust voice and chest their volume and power; but the sense in her warm, blue eyes soon reproved this exuberance, and with astonishment, amid his corrected cadences, Booth discerned in this cool auditor a capable and unexcited critic, not to be affected by his sentiment, but only through her own ambition. She rose in his respect the more, though now he saw the route to her weakness.

“Yaw, Katy, take her sinds to her Saviour, hera Heilond! — Bi’m-by!” Jake Bosler sobbed at the conclusion, drawing his little daughter to his breast.

“Fader, she was dead in te water-brook!” Katy cried, kissing him.

“Yaw, my child. Proke her old daudy’s heart for some young city man’s,” Jake sighed, “and couldn’t look her fader in te face. Dat’s te way with some girls up dis-a-way. Te leeb, te courtin,’ is everyting, till — Bi’m-by.”

“This is a gift of God, right used,” Luther Bosler said to Mr. Booth, as he took his whip in hand and the team came to the door; “but te tears we pring by eloquence must not pe idle tears; for tears should come from deep, pure places, Mr. Booth. As I go around among te Tunkers to pray at pedsides, where te old ones die and te pabes are born, I feel what loads of sorrow make one tear. — Nelly, you shall see it for yourself when we are both believers!”

He kissed his affianced devoutly; but Booth saw that something had broken Luther’s spell over her, and she said:

“Luther, may I have your buggy? Mr. Booth has a foolish desire to see my home.”

“Oh, surely,” Luther answered, hospitably; “anything here, friends, is yours. Pe welcome!”

As Luther Bosler drove southward that afternoon, he crossed the great blue mountain at the old Sharpsburg hauling-road, at which the backbone was depressed, and left Turner’s Gap above a mile to his right, where the National road found an almost hidden clove to go through. In the wild brush and pine-grown gullies of the former deserted way he suddenly came upon two women riding easy-racking mares.

“Whoa!” cried Luther, pulling his four horses in. “I think I know you, madam. What have you done with my sister Katy’s engagement-ring?”

His unerring country eye had seen, through her Dunker hood and smock-frock, the stature of Hannah Ritner.

“Ah, Luther!” she spoke, with frank and strong articulation. — “Come here, Light, and see my young Dunker pastor! Is he not a handsome bachelor?”

“A Dunker pastor! And so fine-looking, too! Perpetual romance, Hannah, your beautiful mountains hold!”

Luther looked up into a beautiful, sincere, attractive child-woman’s face. He did not remove his hat, but wondered what such a lady, in plain, long riding-dress, was riding through these lonely ways for.

“You had no right to take my sister’s gift,” he said to Hannah Ritner. “Its loss has caused her innocent credulity tears.”

“Luther, it was Lloyd Quantrell’s mother’s ring. He had no right to use it to trifle with a child. I took it to his father. Let Katy seek it there, and ask for Abel Quantrell’s consent.”

“Will he give it back, Hannah?”

“I keep the ring,” spoke Hannah Ritner, with unconscious austerity; “I did not ask it, but it has become mine. When Abel Quantrell refuses his son to her, let Katy come to me at the nunnery of Snow Hill.”

“Very well, Hannah. It is better that all shall pe understood, and there pe no deceit.”

“The old German spirit is in these hills,” Light Pittson cried; “the ring of betrothal, the enchanted maids, the bearded men, like Odin, doing justice! Hannah, tell this gentleman’s fortune before we go to Frederick, and you send me back to papa!”

The weird elder woman gazed earnestly in Luther’s face, and, obedient to Hannah Ritner’s command, he removed his wool hat, and looked with mild pleasure in Light Pittson’s ardent eyes.

Hannah Ritner’s dark orbs roved over Luther’s countenance carefully; and then, with eyes closed under her long black lashes, she muttered like one with wits scattered and evasive, till finally she cried:

“Bosler, do not see! Be blind till I am done.”

He closed his eyes, in gallantry more than interest, and soon the low sounds pierced his ear of the improvisatrice’s poetry, sighed forth with passion:

“The yellow star will fade some morn —
 Yellow tassels leave good corn!
 Then attend the bugle-horn,
    And all thy merit see!
 Though in the church they censure some,
 Pain and duty keep thee dumb:
 To hollow heart the hollow drum
    Beats peace and victory!”

Luther kept his eyes closed, waiting for Hannah Ritner to speak again.

When he opened them, he was alone on the mountain with his wagon and horses, and the two female apparitions were nowhere in sight.

“Amen!” sighed Luther, shaking his horses up; “if Hannah raised that spirit by her side, it was a lovely one!”


 

CHAPTER XXIX.

THE ACTOR.

MR. BOOTH asked Nelly Harbaugh if she would not prefer horseback-riding to Luther Bosler’s buggy; and there being only one saddle, though horses to spare, Nelly, with country character, mounted herself on a folded blanket and forced Booth to take the saddle and stirrups. Leaving Hugh Fenwick to keep Katy company, the other two started off in the middle of the afternoon for a ride of several miles, toward the upper portion of the Catoctin Valley.

They passed through one small town, and then crossed between the two branches of Catoctin Creek, which drained the opposite parallel mountains that gradually converged and pushed the hillocks between them higher and higher, until, at Wolfsville, a clean and tidy village, they forded the clear green mountain-run and began to ascend a steep and rugged road, nearly on the mountain-plane.

“There is no Maryland place north of us now,” said Nelly Harbaugh, “but one little store and old tavern at the edge of the wilderness, in the stone-heaps of Hunting Creeks. There the waters run off to the Monacacy River and the Antietam through the gorges of the mountains, and the people are woodsmen and berry-pickers. I have never been in those wilds.”

Booth seemed to enjoy the increasing loneliness of the way. He chose parts of the road to charge his horse and gallop up and down the steeps; and, although Nelly rode firmly and fearlessly, she was no match for her companion’s dashing horsemanship, and soon he drew from his hip-pocket a revolving pistol, and began to terrify his steed by shooting it at trees and stones while riding at full speed.

The unsophisticated horse, finding so wild a rider on his back, attempted to run away; but Booth was still his master, and, by mingled skill and strength, would throw the animal’s head out of its purpose and relation, or force him to stumble and collect himself at the sacrifice of his fury. Then, with the rough, honest steed all covered with foam and trembling, Booth would awaken him to terror anew by firing the pistol right between his ears, and let him run into exhaustion again and check him as before.

The horse was conquered at last, but not composed nor quieted to his fitful rider’s way.

“Please do not misuse Luther’s horse,” Nelly Harbaugh said, catching up. “His horses are steady as himself, and some of the neighbors may see and report us to him. Don’t fire that pistol again! It will alarm this quiet valley.”

“I was merely chasing John Brown and his men, experimentally,” answered Booth, laughing. “I dare say, too, that such conduct as mine would not reflect credit on the Dunker preacher’s affianced?”

“I am watched as never before. So is Luther. His learning is not to his credit in his sect, which regards eloquence and fame as evil vanities, and his intention to marry me is already the subject of their muttered talk.”

“Perhaps they will turn him out of the church?”

“Oh, if they only would, and he consent to it! But it would ruin his peace, and that I could not see. His interest in that church is stronger than ever now, and the Dunkers, I fear, will never trust me.”

“Why, Nelly?”

“Because I am ambitious. The vanities they hate are life and religion to me. My love for that man is greater than everything, but I shall marry him like a girl entering the nunnery on account of her love.”

“O Nelly!” cried Booth, “he never could shine in any other world. You can!”

“But to shine and have no heart left: that is just as bad! Luther Bosler is a great man. He sees everything for himself. He loved me with slow, steady strength till the quiet time came to declare it, and, ever since, I have been a child before him, yielding up everything. I am to be baptized, to put away my bright clothes, and become the example of people who will not have a musical instrument in their houses, nor even hear Katy Bosler’s accordion without dislike.”

“Oh, shame! It would be ingratitude to God. The best families in this valley are not your superiors. Look at that profile — that upturned eye like Medea’s accusing the Fates, the eagle curve of the nose, and the strong, placid mouth that could speak one’s doom as quietly as the Empress Catharine on the Russian throne! No wonder, my great girl, you have some aspirations beyond a Dunker meeting-house!”

He saw her countenance flush to this praise, and, riding by her side, had put his hand upon her chin, to give her profile the proper lines.

“I love praise,” said Nelly Harbaugh, hardly repulsing his hand. “I believe all you say, though I don’t know who the people are you compare me to. If my Luther would only speak to me like that, I could fall off this horse in the dust and worship him.”

“Oh, cutting compliment, Nelly! To be compared to a fanatic like that! Are you an abolitionist, too?”

“No. I have no politics. Negroes I look upon like all us poor whites — with dislike. Luther’s views on this and many subjects I do not understand. Please take your hand down from my neck, sir! But if Luther Bosler was to compliment me I should feel that love and justice had crowned me, like religion itself. He is so much a man!”

Booth drew his hand away from Nelly somewhat testily, but interested in this girl with all the zest of a hunter of fierce animals.

“You don’t think me of a man’s growth, then?”

“You interest me very much. You are a handsome man. I never saw a more agreeable and distinguished young gentleman. Once in my life I went to the theatre, and never since have I forgotten anything in the performance. To have an actor for a friend seems wonderful to me — so wonderful that I can’t find composure to flatter you. You are not settled, like Luther. He never would ride a horse furiously for no purpose at all. Therefore, when he says ‘Love me,’ it is like the command in the Scriptures — the voice of his natural, undivided heart.”

“How do you know my heart has ever been occupied before?”

“It may never be fully occupied hereafter,” Nelly answered; “the heart adapted for love has the sound of love before love enters in it. Many a voice has uttered love to me, and I know all the tones. Lloyd Quantrell is in love: he talks to Katy in love’s tremble. You make me like you by the self-love you start in me; Luther draws me to him by his full-grown character.”

“What has he got to recommend him in any worldly view?”

“Substantial property — farms, horses, standing in his county, a whole sect at his back, a gentle, steady nature, relatives over a wide country — all that a poor girl here wants, and more than enough.”

Booth listened with an affable countenance whose very politeness exasperated the woman engaged to share these benefits.

“Are you rich?” she demanded.

He started, as if not quite prepared for the question.

“How much land have you got, sir?”

“Not an acre.”

“Have you any city houses, or bonds, or stocks, or insurance, or even furniture?”

“Not yet, Nelly.”

“Your friend Lloyd says that actors spend everything upon their own vanity and appetites. I hope you don’t. And yet you rode Luther’s horse like a man who never owned his own horse.”

“I possess no horse,” admitted Booth; “I am only beginning.”

“There’s Katy Bosler; her daddy will give her a farm and stock. And here, sir, is my farm. I am not ashamed of it, because it is everything I have got, and every weed in it seems dear to me.”

A capacity she had for rapid fluctuations of feeling was instanced in this turn from challenge to sensibility, and her throat filled up with emotion as she pulled her horse toward him at her own gate, and pleaded:

“You won’t despise my little home, John?”

“With you, Nelly, it would be fair Rosamond’s bower.”

She leaned forward in gratitude and apprehension, as if she knew no other way, and kissed him welcome.

Nelly’s place was a patch of ground a few acres in extent on the foreland of a high, sliding knoll, with a queer, low, rough-plastered house set at a spot where she could look off into the far distance at the diverging mountain-walls of the Catoctin Valley; and the spire of Wolfsville Lutheran church was just visible over the nearer hills, while underneath her wild perch the ravines yawned full of rocks; and beyond them the Catoctin Mountain was piled up in lonesome walls of woods just feeling the teeth of autumn. Some great rocks still stood like shepherd-dogs above the well-picked fields; a cowbell tinkled in the unknown bottoms; a dog ran out, half civil, and watched Booth fiercely.

“Who lives here besides you, Nelly?”

“Not one. My mother died a year ago, and is buried by that church-steeple.”

“Your father?”

“He is dead, or gone. I may as well tell you, so that you can ask no further: He was a sergeant in the regular army, who came to Frederick recruiting before the Mexican War, and married my mother. He said one day, when I was a little thing, that he must go see his kin in the North, and he never came back. Mother took her old family name again, and I built her this home. Come in it!”

The structure was simple, of refuse lumber, but made neat by vines, pots of flowers, an arbor, rude fences, and stone walls.

“I plastered this house myself,” Nelly said. “A beau of mine lent me the tools. I hauled the lime in a borrowed wagon. The cow-hair a love-sick butcher gave me. Luther Bosler brought me the lath. I sifted the sand from a gully; and so I kept out the cold.”

There were pictures on the wall, taken generally from labels of cotton prints or from illustrated newspapers.

“There,” cried Nelly, “is evidence to you, John” — she had fallen easily at her own home into this familiar address — “that I always loved the actors!”

It was a show-poster in colors, representing a fine blonde female, and entitled “Laura Keene, in ‘The American Cousin.’”

“This seems to be good land, Nelly?”

“It was a stone-heap when I came here. While others picked berries I and mother picked stones, from week to week and from year to year. Sometimes I would pet a susceptible farmer to come with his team and chain of an evening and pull out a few big rocks. I live here all alone; do you wonder that Luther Bosler is a rich man to me?”

He flattered her less, because he began to feel that she had self-reliance as he had seldom heard of it in a worldly woman.

“Do you not require help for some things?” he asked; “some things disagreeable to women?”

“I had to do without it. Winter was before me, and I made ready to butcher myself, for bacon and ham do not grow; but a neighbor relieved me of the killing. I have tended my cow, and been its only doctor at calving; and have run the plow in my field rather than incur the obligation of a lover. In this exposed place one has to be careful about multiplying equals. Dangerous men might get access here through my indiscretion—”

“If they did—?” said Booth.

“I should then shoot off my pistol, too; but powder and shot are dear.”

She drew down an old single-barrel gun from above the door, and raised it to her shoulder with a flash of the eye that took sight at the lock like yellow fire.

“This was all my father left my mother,” Nelly said. “More than once I have taken it down to kill an insolent man, and marched him past my gate!”

“Great God!” exclaimed Booth, watching her thoughtfully; “the women of Daniel Boone were no greater. Nelly, I came here with you for pleasure only. I know that I can not deceive you. You are a revelation to me of wonder and of wealth, and you have reason to love old John Brown that he invaded your country and brought me to your side — yes, Miss Nelly Harbaugh, to your feet!”

He had taken her hands in his, and he knelt before her, doing homage, with an actor’s cleverness, to a playing queen. She watched his manner, or actor’s “business,” with serious rapture.

“Not one point am I richer than you in,” continued Booth, softly and soothingly. “This little land you possess is more than I have saved — more shame to me that it is so, for I have been better salaried than my superiors these two years! With strong body and willful tastes I have followed pleasure and been a spendthrift, knowing no woman of kindred ambition to lead me forward by love and emulation in my profession. I have found that woman. I can give you, Miss Nelly Harbaugh, the one chance of a hundred years on the stage my father’s name is still our passport to!”

She looked at him severely, sadly, but with a longing, and her eyes roved through her lowly window to the sun retiring over the South Mountain and flooding the haze of the valley with golden cloud.

“Get up,” she said. “and let me set you some supper. I am not to be taken by surprise.”

He saw her take down her father’s fowling-piece, and for a moment he was frightened, as he considered her positive and hardening face, all strong in nervous reflection.

“Perhaps,” thought Booth, “she is going to spurn the temptation, and march me to the gate with that gun!”

She set before him an earthen jug of Bosler’s whisky and clear water from her spring, and lighted her fire at the oven. He followed her out and began to cut some wood for the oven, and he soon heard her gun discharged in her buckwheat patch, and she reappeared with a partridge.

“Why, Nelly,” he cried, assisting her at the fire, “these seem to be brook-trout frying!”

“They are. An old lover of mine has been fishing to-day in Little Hunting Creek, and his devotion comes in time for you. Since Brown’s raid nobody much in Catoctin Valley has worked.”

She observed that a single glass of the liquor changed his temperament, and made him less considerate and less gently negative.

“You are not ignorant of farm-life, I see,” Nelly remarked, as Booth ate heartily of the trout and baked bird.

“I should think not. Every child of my father was born on a Maryland farm, and he had a morbid dread for years of our going to the cities or the theatres. It was thirty-seven years ago, when he had been only a year in America, and was hardly older than I am now — for he had gone upon the stage at eighteen — that he bought a wild patch of ground like yours, and put my patient mother upon it. For company for her he brought out his penniless old father, a graduate of the radical spout-shops of London. What a place for two people who had lived abreast of Napoleon and Wellington in the greatest city of the world! The rank woods grew around us, full of wild animals and poisonous snakes. The nearest town was a rude court-house place, and there we went to school three miles and back of a day, while father roved all over the country acting till he would be discharged, or wander away disgusted; and then he came home to turn the satyr side of his nature upon us. He had a dread of final poverty, and if we wanted money we had to work for it. So I have planted corn for three levies a day, and picked stone off the neighbors’ fields for a quarter of a dollar.”

“I am glad of that, my friend. Then you know what humility is?”

She reached out her hand to shake his with sympathy.

“No, Nelly. Humility only our mother knew. We had derived a terrible ambition from that seedy old ruined grandfather, who claimed relationship with a Lord Mayor of London, for whom I am namesake — John Wilkes! One by one we departed, all for the same assertive vocation. I was the last.”

He had retained her hand, and, holding it warmly, concluded:

“I can feel for you, my girl! and the bright spirit of art has sent me to break the spell that walls your beauty in with these dragon mountains. Think of these fair, long hands, whose silver sinews Apollo might have driven the stallions of yonder setting sun with, growing misshapen and warty at the plow and the hoe, when Heaven intended them for rings of precious stones, and to be kissed by merchant princes kneeling for your regard!”

He kissed her hand, but she asked with a still, steady voice, amid her flushing:

“What were you paid when you became an actor first?”

“My father wandered off and died seven years ago upon a Western river. I was the only son at home, in Baltimore, and tired of school and dependence; so my brother-in-law, a manager, gave me eight dollars a week to act small parts in Philadelphia. I despised such employment, and a Virginia manager next offered me three times that salary, and in Richmond I have become a great favorite. This volunteering I have done, to defend Virginia, has made me a hero in the South. Look, Nelly, at these newspaper clippings!”

With a nervous avarice of praise he read to her, in an accentuated, professional style, the unqualified fulsomeness of Southern writing in the provincial days of State rights: “The gallant Booth,” “The successor of Brutus in name and deed,” “The South’s defender,” “Virginia’s champion,” etc.

Soldiering had not been required for so long in America that Brown’s raid had obtained all the importance of a war, and every private in it received the notoriety of a general, while a Marylander volunteering in aid of invaded Virginia, seemed in the strained State “sovereignty” distinctions of those times like Lafayette assisting another country.

“Mark me, Nelly!” declaimed Booth, feeding his excitement at the whisky-glass — “this coming of mine to Charlestown, with the devotion of a patriot, makes my fortune as an actor!”

“You mean in the South?”

“In the South and the West, too, for half the West is Southern. We are three brothers, and we are to divide our father’s raiment by taking his name in three great sections separately — Junius on the Pacific, Edwin in the North, and I am to have the cotton States and the Mississippi Valley. It makes no difference whether I act good or bad, since I have joined the forces against John Brown, and am become a Virginian. I shall be a ‘star’ next year, traveling with my own manager and company. Now I am only ‘Mr. John Wilkes’ on the bills, but then I shall be ‘Mr. Booth, the tragedian,’ and half the receipts will be my share. I shall make twenty thousand dollars in three months!”

“My Lord!” exclaimed Nelly Harbaugh, “what can you do with the money?”

“Give it,” replied Booth, “to the woman I love, and whom I will make my leading lady — to pay her a salary worthy of her beauty, and to encourage her talent by noble dressing and cultivation.”

“To me?” she cried. “I won’t believe you!”

“No, the surprise is too great, my honest girl. You have set your mind no higher than keeping a Dunker farmer’s milk-cans, and can not grasp the sum of your value to me.”

The girl’s eyes sought her father’s gun above the door with weak temper, and she started from her seat at the table and retreated from Booth.

“I was prepared to be flattered by you,” she exclaimed, trembling. “I thought I was armed against you everywhere. Why can you tempt me like that? If I am strong and alone, I am only a woman.”

A flood of actual tears came out upon the bursting of a sob. He endeavored to break this instant of weakness upon his compassionate breast, but her arms were thrown outward, instinctive as her cry, to ward him off.

“Where is my man?” she moaned, laying her golden-tinted neck and unbound wave of hair upon the clay chimney-place; “the man I am promised to, and who should be my shepherd now when I am asked to stray from the fold? Gone, and I am left with a beautiful devil and this temptation!”

“Pardon me!” said Booth, also rising. “Your ingratitude wounds me, too. I thought I interpreted your wishes, or I would not have expressed my own. Your sensibility, Nelly, convinces me the more that you can reform the evil in me, and make me a man. Young as I am, a woman’s influence is already my necessity. If not as an artist, help me as a wife!

He took the old gun from the place above the door, and walked out into the fields noiselessly, but she knew that he was gone.

Her dog was growling suspiciously to see her cry, when she looked up, and she walked to her cheap, gilt looking-glass, and took it from its peg and sat with it, under her arbor, looking alternately at her great, reddened, expressive blue eyes and at the falling of sunset upon the receding billows of the Catoctin Valley.

She had lost the joy of this home, the humble monument of her hands, and lost, also, the solace of her marriage engagement, so dearly invited and full of sacred whisperings — mutuality, trust, children, worship, and widening good name; the opportunity of charity, the manna of improvement, the self-respect the world can not take away. A superficial man, full of strong will, hardly her senior in years, and unscrupulous in friendship, had crossed the gentle vista of her domestic settlement like the shadow of a croaking crow she saw go across her white buckwheat-blossoms — a winged appetite. With superstitious memory she recalled the fortune-teller’s lines:

“Something dark and white I mark,
  It shall mark thee with the dark!”

She heard the gun of Booth go off, and the crow dropped out of his driving career, limp and nondescript.

Deeper helplessness settled upon her as she thought how her very thoughts were countered by this stranger’s casualty.

Glancing at her looking glass, something of her mother’s piteous expression there, whom she had seen so often cry at Nelly’s waywardness, brought real tears again; this time she let them come like steam from the scalding kettle, grateful with relief.

That mother, the flower of the valley, culled by a bold, effusive stranger, and briefly worn with a devotion above constancy, had died with one faith and prayer alone — the preservation of her child’s pure soul in wifely custody to some native, unranging man. Her prayers were now answered, for Luther Bosler had been that mother’s choice, though she might never knew his and Heaven’s condescension in this world.

“Oh, speak, mother!” the soldier’s orphan sighed; “let Nature somewhere break this chain that drags me down like the hewed tree to the mill in the valley! I feel the high wheels take one down; I hear the saw scream for me in the long coffin of the saw-mill; my body is on the trundle, and I am going forward in the grooves. Oh, pray — pray — pray!”

Booth heard these words, and they made him superstitious. Thrice in that way had his father spoken when he died, a poor, old, lonely man in the state-room of a Western steamboat, saying with strangling breath, “Pray — pray — pray!”

The son felt the admonition of conscience, and he answered Nelly’s prayer:

“I withdraw my offer, Nelly. You are too good a girl.”

“What?” She had arisen from her struggle, like one made the subject of a miracle.

“This independence you live in, is better than the dependence and uncertainty of the stage. The man you have promised is better for you than I could be. Come, be my friend, and God bless you!”

His better nature had prevailed; the game had vexed him, and he abandoned it.

“O John! I will always be your friend, for now I see the whiteness and the darkness fall apart in your nature.”

With friendship made up of gratitude and relief, she took him in her arms like a brother long wished for, and on her ardent kiss the gypsy in his blood flamed in an instant again. He reached for the jug of whisky, but she interposed:

“Oh, do not drink again! It changes your nature so.”

“You know me already,” spoke Booth. “What an angel you can be, throwing worldly ambition away! It was not made for woman.”

“I confess that sin, John. Am I cured of it?”

“I never would have robbed you of this independence, Nelly. It is the dream of my own life to stand above and away from vulgar contact. If I had made you my pupil, I would not have advanced you beyond your growth. First I would have put you in the chorus, and let you find your own level. Your courage and perseverance would have brought you out.”

Again her imagination hearkened to the revelations of that glittering mimic world, but he had assuaged her fears. She listened to him now without suspicion, since he had redeemed himself. He talked long and sensibly, with most instructive minutiæ, of information about the chances and rewards of actress-life.

“Why, Nelly,” he cried at last, “it is past eight o’clock. You must not be compromised by staying alone with me in this house. To horse, my Dunker cavalier!”

As they stood in her little stable together, making the horses ready, he murmured, taking her hand:

“Am I trusted?”

“Always.”

“Then you can kiss me.”

“This is the last, dear John.”

It was late when they reached Bosler’s farm, and the great dog Fritz being absent there, no barking announced them. They put the horses in the stable quietly, and, guided back to the house by a candle in a window, paused there to look within. Katy was asleep, with her accordion still in her hands.

Gazing down at her, with his Catholic breviary in his lap, Hugh Fenwick looked in more than image-worship.

The spotted pointer, Albion, took in the scene with one eye, as consonantly mischievous with his own general intentions.

“My gracious!” cried Katy, as the door opened and the dog snapped; “is it you, Nelly? Why, I dreamed you had pecome an actor at te teatre.”

Jake Bosler, too, had been aroused, and his shaggy hair and beard were seen at the stairway-door, and he remarked:

“Soun-up. Bi’m-by!”


 

CHAPTER XXX.

JOHN BROWN EXECUTED.

A WARM Friday within the brink of December — like the climate of the better world let down to temper an old man’s winter — saw the lean, long body of John Brown turning, with the breezes from the Shenandoah, at the end of a cord.

There hung the unprefaced one, amid two thousand soldiers, the captain of the greatest episode in time.

The gallows-tree was framed about with lines of chivalry; but something odd, and moral, and pitiful, hung there on a hempen string, which made the imposing military display seem moderate, and no volunteer in it felt the occasion not to be dignified.

Nearest the gallows was the company in which stood to his musket John Wilkes Booth — stern, handsome, and classical. Quantrell was a substitute in a more distant command; John Yates Beall was also in the gay-vestured field — each of these young men taking a lot in the old man’s bloody raiment, here raffled in the chief gateway to the slave States.

It was the dress rehearsal of the mightiest war since the courts of Europe had repressed and imbibed republicanism.

Stuart and Lee, Wise and Vallandigham, had rehearsed at the old man’s capture. Stonewall Jackson at the head of his school of cadets, Turner Ashby commanding the pickets, Israel Green, the marine-officer who had cut John Brown down, and Jeff Thompson from far-off Missouri, were some of the pawns at the scaffold. The gray uniforms from Richmond, the light blue from Alexandria, the buff and yellow from Winchester, and the crimson from Appomattox, stood in the great hollow square of troops, to which the militia from Petersburg had guarded this one old man from jail, as he rode upon his coffin. The guidon-flags to designate the positions these and others were to take, prophesied the name, also, on each, of some unborn battle.

No gambler ever paid the odds of life which these neighborhoods paid John Brown — a thousand, at least, to one. No Valkyria of Odin and the Northern gods ever marked more surely the sites of devastation: Gettysburg, Chambersburg, Hagerstown, Winchester, Richmond, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, had all been spied out for the strategy that John Brown appeared at this moment to have brought to such a small and personal conclusion.

Short had been his shrift — tried in seven days, sentenced in six days more, executed in another month — not seven weeks in all; but in that time he rounded life with the accuracy and completeness of a comet predicted and fulfilled. His foolishness ended at his taking, and his greatness began in his failure. The letters he answered, the speech he made in court, his consistency and simplicity, had a moral influence feebly prefigured by the reckless Samson pulling the heathen temple down. Of Samson had remained only strength; of Brown, no strength — only testimony.

The abolitionist — that unseen terror — had at last been captured and displayed in the slave States, and probably the only perfect specimen. Nearly every one of the same genus who had been privy to his plans retreated from the responsibility, and left him on the enemy’s side, a deadly hostage, subtle as wisdom itself.

Quantrell, Booth, and Beall, the youthful trio, all heard John Brown when he rose in court to answer why sentence should not be passed upon him.

His head still ringing with sword-strokes, and his side and kidneys wounded, he was able, by long absorption of his theme, to preach upon it without preparation, and to the most modest and wondrous effect.

He rose from his blanket and cot, like Lazarus from the dead, all bandaged and feeble, and said that he had come to Virginia to set free slaves:

“Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great,” said John Brown, “and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right, and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”

His tones were almost hesitating, and therefore the quiet meaning felt its way along the heart-strings as art could never do. Glancing, in need of an idea, at the little Bible by the judge, the old man, touching sixty years of age and looking seventy, raised his mighty plaint again:

“I see a book kissed in this court which I suppose to be the New Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me I should do even so to them. It teaches me further to remember them that are in bonds as bound with them. I endeavored to act up to that instruction; for I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered, as I have done, in behalf of his despised poor, is no wrong, but right.”

Those high words had been a felony spoken anywhere in Virginia except in court, and for the first time in thirty years they were now legally proclaimed. The judge was presiding at an abolition meeting, and was powerless to arrest an orator who came shod in the supernal light of martyrdom. Poor men without slaves heard the gospel where no misinterpretation could distort the preacher’s nature, and the great slaveholders would feign have cried out in chagrin, as in a noble poem, contemporary with John Brown, “Hadst thou sought the whole State over, there was no one place so secret — no high place nor lowly place where thou couldst have escaped me — save on this very scaffold.”*

[* “The Scarlet Letter.”]

He continued, and they felt it was a gentleman who now spoke, whatever he may have been before:

“Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions, in this slave country, whose rights are disregarded by the wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say, let it be done!”

Quantrell’s eyes filled with tears at the recollection of Brown’s dying sons, who had gone in bloody testimony before him. He heard other sobs, also, in that long, deep court-room, with people standing in window-sills, and oil-lamps feebly lighting the packed inclosure; but the voice of Booth rebuked those symptoms, audibly saying:

“The damned, black-hearted villain!”

“Heart black as a stove-pipe!” muttered the tight-shut skull of young Mr. Beall.

The old man now thanked the court, the neighboring society, and the jury courteously, and those who had prematurely muttered against him grew small in their own esteem. He disclaimed any design of treason or general insurrection, merely desiring to take people out to liberty. Nor had he misled any, many of his volunteers having been strangers to him, and most of them had paid their own expenses to death.

Thus he disposed of the impression sought to be made by some Northern lawyers, afraid to defend freedom from freedom’s side, and destroyed the stigma that he, an old, wise man, had decoyed some boys to danger. The little army of fanaticism was made to stand equal everywhere upon the high ground of principle.

Only one man applauded when he was sentenced, and him the judge severely rebuked, so that in after-years he was afraid to shout at all, and grew timid of his own natural emotions.

Little Ned Coppock had been tried, as John Brown came up for sentence, and when they sentenced him, who was almost a favorite with the populace, so fair and young he was, Ned also spoke:

“I never committed murder. When I escaped to the engine-house and found the captain and his prisoners surrounded there, I saw no way of deliverance but by fighting a little. If anybody was killed on that occasion, it was in a fair fight.”

Coppock had been a poor orphan boy, but the Quaker who raised him found somewhere in him the spirit of the wild copack, or Russian lanceman, whence may have come his name; and when John Brown discovered him in Iowa he entered the crusade cordially, and it was not to his disparagement in Virginia that he had fought bravely. He stood up to be sentenced with his arms behind him, abreast of John Cook, whose arms were folded; and between them stood two negroes, Green, the South Carolinian, and Copeland from Oberlin — a college which educated blacks with whites.

Green was from Charleston — the city which was to begin the war — a runaway slave, and he had fought revengefully. Copeland had been raised of Virginia seed in Ohio. These two, the least culpable in motive there, were the most friendless; but Virginia took distinction that day that she, alone of the slave States, probably, would do no more than punish them equally like the white invaders. Farther south they would have died by torture.

John E. Cook, the most befriended of any by relatives and power, and he alone dressed newly and well, was the most unhappy person in the band. The rest had put life behind them, and were resigned to die, while he had been tempted to confess upon his comrades, as he had also been the Hebrew spy upon Virginia, and therefore his intelligence did him no credit, being unaccompanied with constancy. A thread of self-love and glorifying went through his natural courage and left him unsupported in despondency, but, as his life was taken at last, he died manfully, and might have left a noble figure with his delicate outlines and better mental organization than the rest. It would seem from John Brown’s final rebuke of him that Cook had proceeded to Harper’s Ferry in advance, upon his own motion chiefly, liking the adventure even better than the cause.

Stevens was tried reclining on the court-room floor, with his back against a mattressed chair, old slippers on his feet, and his head in a kerchief. He accepted no favors, looked with contempt on court and foe, regarded John Brown as less of a military genius than he had supposed, and for the rest cared nothing; since he joyously believed in spirit-people, and meant his death to be a visitation.

Hazlett, who had also been recaptured, was a plain, dull Pennsylvanian; for the little roster of Brown’s daring lads covered many States — Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina; and Kansas had been their military academy.

In spite of their injury to Jefferson County, Virginia, its people were seldom harsh with these strangers. The Teutonic wave rippling through that region was mild and laving, and in many a farm-house lay Kercheval’s old “History of the Valley,” saying: “Twenty-four hours never pass during which my imagination does not present me with the afflicting view of the slave; and my consolation was that the master would receive the punishment due to his cruelty, while the slave should find rest from his toils and sufferings in the kingdom of heaven!”

This conscience ran through all grades in Virginia, from the Governor of the State, at Richmond, to the jailer at Charlestown. “I am in charge of a jailer,” the old man wrote to his family, “like the one who took charge of Paul and Silas, and kind hearts and kind faces are more or less about me, while thousands are thirsting for my blood!”

He was a multiform study indeed, with prismatic lights and sides. Now he was Cromwell, and now John Bunyan; now Presbyterian, and now Independent, but no preacher would John Brown have, since all who came to pray with him justified slavery. He had skeptical or infidel sons, some of whom had died with Christian devotion fighting for his political cause, but he averred that his expedition and defeat had been predestined in the eternal decrees of God. He disclaimed having ever had the spirit of retaliation, yet admitted advising acts of deadly reprisal, such as friendship, to this day, feels bashful to defend; and, indeed, he was an Old Testament pupil, possessed with the complacency of Heaven’s headsman and hewer-down. Discerning people said he was partly insane, but he remarked acutely: “I must be very insane, if insane at all; but if that be so, insanity is like a very pleasant dream to me.” There seemed an unfeeling side to him, as when he advised his wife not to come to him, and to have all the bodies of her slain sons and sons-in-law burned; yet his letters home were tender as a daughter’s, and from Maryland came proof that he would never kill a pig nor cut open a watermelon without dividing with the poor people around him there.

Death seemed to John Brown a mere incident in justice, and wrong-doers or wrong systems to be under the sentence of Moses and Joshua. That terrible book which waked the Calvinist and Baptist to civil war and cut off the English king’s head, John Brown had balanced over the Anglo-Saxon republic, and made terrible again by his willful reading of it. The democracy of the saints seemed still his religion, and he wrote to a merchant: “I go joyfully in behalf of millions that have no rights, and I look forward to other changes to take place, believing that ‘the fashion of this world passeth away.’” “Let me be spared,” he said to another Joseph of Arimathea, “any weak or hypocritical prayers made over me when I am publicly murdered, and let my only religious attendants be poor, little, dirty, ragged, bareheaded and barefooted slave-boys and slave-girls, led by some old, gray-headed slave-mother!”

Quantrell took Katy in to see him one day when Lloyd was on guard and Katy in the town.

The general, Taliaferro — whom usage degraded to Tolliver, and whom some dubbed Tolable — had been at the guard-house across the way, taking his nap on the veranda, heavy with epaulets and juleps, and ridden by the nightmare of responsibility. He heard singing, and took it superstitiously. Some abolition angels might have rolled the stone away from John Brown’s tomb, and celebrated his escape with Yankee hosannas.

He came tearing up the jail-porch, his mighty sword raising echoes down the silent afternoon street, and his spurs catching in his trousers’ stripes.

“Campbell — Avis, what’s to pay?” roared the general. “Who’s a-doin’ this breakdown? Is this a time faw levity?”

The sheriff and the jailer, thus addressed, entered the condemned man’s cell, and the general followed, cunningly, lest some black art might be at work.

“Cappen Brown,” asked the doughty general, “am I to understand that you, sah, desire, sah, of this saranadin’, sah? It’s not in military usage, cappen, but we consult yo’ wishes, sah.”

“I do, general.”

“Cappen Brown,” exclaimed the general of militia, saluting for the third time, “yo’ desiah shall be complied with, sah, in spite of regulations.”

Hereupon the general turned, at such a military right angle that he ran into six of his staff, who had come to rescue him, and an inextricable confusion of sabers, chapeaux, epaulets, spurs, salutes, oaths, and apologies ensued, ending by a strewing of the place with fallen magnanimity. Some one ran to the cannon under the court-house portico to fire it off, and the negroes at the two hotels rang the big dinner-bells in the trees, and fell down their respective cellars, to anticipate a bombardment.

The culmination of burlesque and pathos was in the reception of John Brown’s wife.

The subject of her visit had been made a diplomatic matter, and was the occasion of more telegraphing between the old pagan Capitol at Richmond and the seat of war in the Valley than all the Virginia press required for news.

Would she bring, concealed about her person, the plot for his rescue or escape? Did the art of war show an instance of a woman entering the picket-lines? Could the reception of Mrs. Brown give a pretext for the Federal courts to interfere?

Chivalry prevailed at last, and word was passed to bring Mrs. Brown from Harper’s Ferry to Charlestown, not by rail, but by private conveyance and military escort.

The carriage-cushions were carefully taken out to see if they concealed any Northern newspaper correspondents, and an escort of cavalry formed around the ancient vehicle, that had apparently been used in the Shakespearean age by Captain John Smith, and was at least as old and as decrepit as the American Constitution, which was soon to furnish old lumber and leather enough for two governments.

A file of Virginia dragoons in the uniform of Marlborough’s age surrounded this crazy State vehicle; the poor lady’s friends were not allowed to ride with her; but the Virginia militia officers, instead, inflicted their preposterous eighteenth-century sympathy and compliment upon a woman simple and native in her life and ways as Pocahontas.

Up the long, dry turnpike stretches, like causeways to the top and bottom of the world, dragoons and coach came rattling, pistols and sabers ready; and negroes peeped from knot-holes in toll-house and barn, and white families turned out at lanes and blacksmiths’ corners, to see this ogress, who had been the bandit’s bride and maternal font of bandit sons.

Alas! She had hunted for twenty-four hours at Harper’s Ferry to get a wandering bone or shoe of her lost babes killed there in the foray; and one had been the sport of a dissecting-table, and the other clapped into a dead negro’s arms and buried indistinguishably.

So she reached the hill-top of Charlestown, marked by the stumpy-towered Episcopal church and the prosecuting attorney’s mansion, and there the great review was taking place to prepare for the execution on the morrow. The poor lady, worn out with the silly chatter she had been subjected to, took little note of the glittering bayonets and loud comments — each yelled with special reference to “Madame” Brown; or of the churchyard filled with rabble and the church itself a barrack; of the absence of black people from the streets, and the curiosity of women. She heard the sharp echoes on the stones, felt the sharp pain in her heart, and realized where glory and philanthropy left the blasted home.

The street at the jail corners was so crowded that the military had to clear a way and form a square; but all their ostentation was wasted on the plain, large woman who had learned patience in Northern winters and unintermittent child-births, and who had dealt above a quarter of a century with a husband impracticable and persevering as the wild steer.

They gazed on her with hardly recognition, thinking she had not yet come when she was gone; for they expected they knew not what, but something dazzling, like Taliaferro’s aides, some of whom had their hair plaited double behind and brought around to the front and tied in a bow-knot between their eyes!

The general himself was an entire review, as he stood in the upholstery of militia regalia, with a staff never afterward equaled in numbers and pomatum in the New World.

Leather thighings, prodigious boots, loops of dyed horse-hair, epaulets which seemed to clank, and sabers which seemed to titter, spurs pointing upward, swords pointing forward, scabbards getting awry, mustaches twisted, beards like breastplates, dignity and vanity mixed, like the quid of tobacco under the martial jaw, and the solemnity of an historical occasion attempted to be preserved coincident with the gallantry due a lady.

“General Tollivaw” (the scene seemed to give it the sound of Bolivaw), “pawmit me, general, saw, to present Madame Brown, saw, of the State, saw, of New Yawk — ah! saw.”

Solemn silence, punctuated by an officer letting fly his tobacco-expectoration over his helmet-chain without moving his countenance from its austerity.

“Welcome, welcome to Vahgeenia, madame,” spoke the general, vast hat in hand, and describing the radius of a great circle on the floor. “Pawmit me to shake yo’ hand. Pawmit me to wish yo’ health is faw. Pawmit me to intojuce the offisaws of my staff.”

Severally, to this unabashed, unrelaxing, stalwart mother and pioneer, the well-meaning but inconsiderate sons of Mars were introduced, each in sentiment surrendering his personality to “Virginia,” while, in fact, with a whetted self-consciousness provincial patriotism alone could so deform. Some assured her of “true Virginia hospitality” if she should ever visit their respective counties — she who was to know upon the morrow the pang of widowhood and want, and in whose life, for years past, the acquisition of a calico dress was an historical period!

But of that fantastic staff how many were to fall and clutch the turf, crying on God and mother, and forgetting that Virginia ever was!

It seemed a comfort to her, after a quarter of an hour of ill-timed smirks and inanities, to be taken aside by Mrs. Avis, the jailer’s wife, and searched for implements of suicide; but Mrs. Avis knew John Brown would never take his own life, and her hands had the tenderness of caresses. There was the real and memorable hospitality of Virginia, in that shoemaker-jailer’s family, facing the roar of merciless millions, who called for severity to Brown’s men, but saying back, “These are my captives and my guests.” Such jailers, a little later, might have made prison-pens also pitiful.

The jailer alone remained in the little parlor with the condemned man and his wife, although Taliaferro broke in once, to say that they could only have two hours, and then gave them four, for he was a kinder man than his wind.

The resolute woman of forest stature and manual labor’s mold went up to John Brown and called him “father.” He was the only father she knew; for, marrying him at half his age, when she was of only sixteen years, she paid the penalty childhood, like Ruth, pays to old Boaz and his prospects and intellect.

He was then postmaster, surveyor, tanner, and town-maker, with the dogmatic will of one predestined to be restless all his days. He led her continually into the deserts, and left her there, and went off on some inspired freak of ruin, leaving little babes around her, and even a babe to come; and when she gave him her destiny and tenderness in charge, he already had been the father of seven children, five of them alive.

He gave her the life of a poor white, aggravated by the splendid illusions of a schemer and a dreamer, and the end of the dream had come.

He had levied upon her sons, the support of her mountain-patch of land, and taken them to death, with their widows to be left upon her care. Thirteen children had she borne this old man, the sire of twenty; and to-morrow he was to die, and bequeath her only his body.

He took her in his arms, and in his white beard lay her face, as often she had thrown it into the fleece she spun for his clothing in his absence, wondering if he could be dead. The spasm of her broad shoulders showed that she was weeping, and the gurgle of the spirit within, breaking over this last flinty barrier, sobbed forth a few times; but he stood like a rock used to the flood and full of its moss and lichens; the tears that wet his face were the splashings of hers. He was pitying her and Nature, but not himself.

She looked up, and saw him so natural and strong, and dried her tears, still leaning on his mouth; for she looked like his buxom daughter, and only his shaft-like head made him higher than hers.

“Father,” she said, “they let me come to see you at last.”

He kissed her, and asked for the widows he had made and the children he was never to see.

“Mary,” said he, “is grandfather’s old granite tombstone set up by the big rock at North Elby?”

“Yes, father, with son Freddy’s name under your grandfather’s, who fit in the Revolution.”

“I value it highly,” said John Brown, “for I am the first of my family ever put in jail; and, Mary, I want my name to go by Grandfather John Brown’s. A revolutionary soldier, too, I hope I was.”

“Papa, we don’t accuse you. You thought it was right. We think so, too.”

“Three of my sons, killed in this war for liberty, I want remembered by an inscription on that stone. Grandfather and me will make two more. I have loved this life, wife, so much, I want to leave a line upon a stone.”

His ambition was greater than the expectations of religion, for he had found that tombstone the day he ordered his deadly pikes from the blacksmith, by his grandfather’s grave.

The tombstone being discharged from his mind, Captain Brown settled into a contented mood, and sat down to the meal the good jailer furnished, eating sparingly, and with business references to small matters of property; for he adhered to the idea, and his wife also, that he was a great master of affairs, and had always failed through the incompetence of the times, seasons, and agents. He asked if his wife could not remain with him that night and depart with his mold next day, instead of retiring, as if she were a whole army, to Harper’s Ferry, eight miles away, and there await his dumb remains. The request was denied; for the rabble clamored about the jail, and the moral pulse of the State was in a high fever.

So Brown settled down to read his will, which the jailer witnessed.

It was a will of souvenirs, and not property: the tombstone, his surveyor’s compass, a silver watch, a glass, a lost gun, Bibles, and debts. He wanted all his little debts paid, even to people whose names he had forgotten. When this was ended, the old man looked quite comfortable and commercial; for his ideas never had failed to impress his family, and the departure he was to take on the morrow seemed only a larger journey and with no traveling expenses to provide. Strange that he had read the Bible every day of his life, and forgot it now! We all think we shall die anticipating, but we die retrospecting, and preparing for this world. It was, probably, with an insight into his high, ambitious, Puritan nature, that Mary Anne Brown inquired:

“Father, wasn’t you disappointed at being took so soon?”

“My dear,” the old man said, with a nervous twitch, his hairy forehead wrinkled speculatively, and his gray eyes preoccupied, “the errors of my plan were decreed before the world was made, and I had no more to do with the course I pursued than the shot leaving a cannon has to do with the spot where it shall fall.”

“Pappy,” she said, the last word being a cry that struck the jailer’s heart, “didn’t you suffer when Olly died, and our oldest boy, Watty?”

“No pain is like our offspring’s death,” the old man said, with his right shoulder pushed forward as if to lean upon some spirit unseen; “I loved my children, Mary; you have seen me nurse them weeks at a time. But I saw them die without tears, they were so brave.”

All trembling, the large child-woman rose and meant to say something proudly, but it would not articulate.

“I have no boy left,” she meant to say, “and you will be taken, too.”

“Courage, wife! We have made our mark on this world by our failure. Death is the incident of a great purpose. There is a bright morning and a glorious day. Moderate circumstances, Mary, is the best blessing of this life. By poverty and failure I have been preserved to do this work. It is done; and I shall see our sons and daughters who have gone before — the three babes who were buried in one grave, the three grown ones who died for liberty. The blessing of our offered blood will follow you for all the remainder of your days.* See this, Mary!”

[* She survived John Brown twenty-five years, and lived to see a statue of him voted by Kansas to the national capital, and his scaffold sold in pieces valuable as their weight in silver.]

He took up a newspaper and read a message from the Governor of South Carolina, which had just come to hand, threatening secession in the event of a “Black Republican” being elected President, and also a legislative act, as follows:

Resolved, That the State of South Carolina is ready to enter, together with the other slaveholding States, or such as desire present action, into the formation of a Southern Confederacy.”

She did not understand it, or was in grief too profound to try; but he explained to her that he had forced slavery to become revolutionary, and made the Union of the American States the national cause, and involved it with the fall of slavery.

She listened with interest at last, and so he absorbed the time till she was commanded to go, and his failure took the light in her loyal nature of a postponed success.

Proudly she repulsed the insinuations of the smirker who assured her, returning to Harper’s Ferry, that slavery was a gentle boon to white and black.

“Every child of John Brown believes he died for the greatest cause in this world,” she retorted, “and so do I.”

Having had his way and will to the last, John Brown went forth to die next day, taking no pains with his toilet, and wearing the same clothes in which he had fought, and an old slouched hat. He gave what silver change he possessed to his fellow-prisoners, and admonished them to die like men, and never spoke to Hazlett, lest the identification might be testimony against him.

Stepping forth in the public street of Charlestown with cords upon his arms, the old man was indifferent to his coffin in the little wagon and to the movements of the military; but when the young wheat in the winter fields met his gaze, and the fodder-rows of russet maize, and the winding mountains in the near east, he felt the farmer in his blood again, and not the radical.

“This is a beautiful country. It is the first time I have seen it just here.”

Life swelled in his nostrils, and the sense of beauty that is the joy forever. He looked on those blue and mellow mountains to the last, thinking of nothing else, except that the boys and citizens ought not to have been kept from the execution-field.

It was a privilege to see him die, beyond the death of any man yet known in America who had chosen the gallows for his death-bed. Some who had looked into his genealogy thought they saw in his face and works signs of all the races that were united in him: English Puritan, Holland Dutchman, Welsh — the stocks of Hampden, De Ruyter, and Jefferson.

He climbed the scaffold first, shook off his hat, thanked all for favors, and over his kindly smile the death-cap was drawn.

“I can’t see, gentlemen. You must lead me,” the muffled voice petitioned — to be led to the death-trap.

He did not desire to publicly speak, though it had been forbidden. The only inhumanity he suffered was the delay of the militia, who were made to march, countermarch, face outward and inward, and repel an invisible attack. There was one side of the hollow square left open, where the sun was shining overhead.

“I am ready at any time,” was extorted from his lips at last; “do not keep me waiting!”

The scaffold-trap then opened beneath his feet, like the wicket of heaven on golden hinges turning, and all that was erratic in the old man’s life straightened on the silver cord that let him down into the bosom of the Valley.

In after-years the armies there faced every way, to repel insidious Liberty seeking to come in, but it was let down from a side they had not thought to guard.


 

CHAPTER XXXI.

DISINTEGRATION.

LUTHER BOSLER had learned, by the John Brown raid, a lesson nearly forgotten among the Maryland Germans, with their other Pennsylvania Dutch antecedents — of which was their dialect, fast turning into unadorned English — namely, the ready money of going to market.

He and his father would now rise by the moon and get the wagon ready, and when all strangers were shut out of Virginia, in the season of the executions there, Luther bethought him of the market at Baltimore, and he took Nelly and Katy along.

It was at least forty miles, but the way seemed grand, over the old National road, with its remaining wagoners’ taverns, the hollow tavern-yards of Frederick City, the turbid Monocacy River, Sugar-Loaf Mountain in the south, the Patapsco winding in its wooded hills among mills and convents, and Ellicott’s Town, so stately with factories.

They stopped part of the night at a tavern near St. Charles College, fifteen miles out of Baltimore, and Father Hugh Fenwick, teaching there, showed them by moonlight the park and mansion of Doughoragan Manor, right opposite the college; and there, where he had lived, the last survivor of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, lay buried in his family chapel.

The long, yellow-coated mansion, trimmed with white, its architectural balustrades and projecting wings, great servants’ quarters and many slave-cabins, its terraces of flowers and winding walks and mighty trees, formed a real palace amid an estate that would have been belittled by calling it baronial.

Katy walked with Hugh Fenwick, and a young pupil at the college opposite, named Surratt — a tall, slender, modest person — accompanied them. The manor-house was perhaps an eighth of a mile in circuit, and a friendly gardener led them close enough to the windows to see the portraits within, and hear the various company there engaged with music, dance, or conversation. They started at one place to hear Lloyd Quantrell’s name mentioned.

“Hush! listen!” Nelly Harbaugh whispered.

“Isn’t he dissipated?” asked a woman’s voice within.

“A little, but his father says marriage will end all that,” another lady was replying; “and he is remarkably fine-looking, shy of ladies, and has a fair property in Charles County. Abel Quantrell told cousin that she was the only maid in Maryland beautiful enough to marry his son, who was a Lloyd, you know!”

Katy Bosler’s eyes shone so wildly in her suddenly paled face that Hugh Fenwick reached out to support her, but her brother already held her in his arms, murmuring:

“Katy, it may not pe true. Tere are other men, Katy, petter for my peautiful sister!”

The girl straightened up, and spirit flashed from her eyes.

“I am going to see Lloyd’s father in Paltimore,” she said, “and get back my wedding-ring!”

She listened a little to the consolations of Hugh Fenwick as he took them all through the old Sulpician College, which Mr. Carroll had founded in his ninety-fifth year of life. Katy thought only of her lover, who had attended this school.

“I do not understand all tese names, Mr. Priest,” Luther Bosler observed, as they looked over the great stone building, and heard the owls call. “What is Sulpician and what is Jesuit? And which are you?”

“I am not yet ordained,” Fenwick replied. “I admire the Jesuits for their worldly learning, and the Sulpicians for their theological learning. Washington city, or rather Georgetown, is the university and headquarters of the Jesuits; by a miracle it was directed that the American capital should be located at its gates, for the college preceded the capital.”

“So, if us Luterans and Reformed people had got tere first, it wouldn’t pe a miracle?” suggested Luther, controversially.

“The Jesuits and Sulpicians always assisted each other, and the Sulpicians had the first theological seminary. They put it in Baltimore, and put their college near Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania; but it did not flourish among those old Germans; and, after the Irish began to emigrate in 1849 strongly to America, the Sulpicians removed to this, their only college now. I am Irish and German, Mr. Bosler, and my choice is not yet fully made.”

“Do not waver,” Luther spoke; “pe not of two opinions! Love and religion pegin in single-mindedness.”

He looked at Nelly Harbaugh tenderly, and added:

“Like our love, Nelly!”

“Oh, always believe I loved you,” Nelly answered, as she put her hand in Luther’s.

If Katy Bosler really meant to go and see Abel Quantrell, she was spared a journey. As she stood with her brother in the market-square, in Baltimore — Nelly Harbaugh reading theatre-bills on the bill-boards — she heard a voice say:

“Sho! Light. Cube all your romance and it is four walls — the same as a prison!”

“‘Stone walls can not a dungeon be,
   Nor prison-bars a cage,’

where love and romance live within them,” Light Pittson replied. “See this beautiful group of Germans, sir. What rosy girls! What a bison-like, great-eyed young man!”

“Young squabs, Mister Quantrell! Winter spring-chickens! Egg-plants never frosted! New-laid eggs! Putter! Putter-peans! And a Frederick County capon as pig as a goose!”

“No scrapel, Bosler? Sho! You Dutch forget your Pennsylvania fare. No Moravian case? No Crefeldt sausage? What’s the price of pepper-hash? — Light, will you like some of their mountain honey?”

He looked down from his wig, with his mouth turned down at the corners, and his sardonic smile, like the last red coals in ashes, fell upon the two girls. — “Ho!” he spoke; “here are peaches and cream! How much for such marketing as this?”

“I’ll sell out,” cried Katy, leaning against the wagon-tail, “for te ring you took from Hannah Ritner. It’s mine. You sha’n’t cheat me out of it!”

“Sho! Rings were superfluous for love-matches when I was a boy in York and Adams Counties. They put a ring on the bull and a lawsuit on the bridegroom. They had the herd first, and the herd-book afterward. I wish I was a boy again!”

“You can pe a petter poy than I guess you ever was,” replied Katy, “py letting your son pe honest, as he wants to pe, and marry me!”

“What!” spoke Light Pittson; “Lloyd in love with this child? He said he had a mountain beauty; and isn’t it romantic, that I should find her here, and exclaim that she was beautiful!”

“Hallo!” exclaimed Abel Quantrell, putting his hand into his shirt-bosom, his market-basket at his feet, and his black boy attending him — “we are cubing compliments, and I’ll complete the square by saying that yonder is Miss Amazon herself!”

He gazed on Nelly Harbaugh, who was nettled, and she replied:

“When you got to be a right old man, I reckon there was one rogue the less.”

“Why, this is Hannah Ritner’s friend, the Dunker pastor!” Light Pittson said. “She told his fortune, Mr. Quantrell. Can’t you see Philip Melanchthon in his soft eyes? And Zwingrus in his soldier-port? Oh, how the East is embellished!”

“Ho! sho!” said Abel Quantrell, “I see we shall buy nothing here. I’ll cube the matter. — Bosler, send all you have to sell, to my house; my boy will show you the way. And bring your girls along, and dine with us. Sho! never mind the expense. I want some information from you.”

As these mountain people went through the street of Old Town, Baltimore, they saw against the great shot-tower there the theatre bill of Edwin Booth, brilliant young son of the historic tragedian, announcing that he was to play that night.

“O Katy!” Nelly whispered, “make Luther take us there.”

“No,” said Katy; “Luther is a preacher; I’m a preacher’s sister, and my heart’s too full for te theatre, Nelly.”

“I’ll ask Luther!” Nelly said, impulsively. “If he loves me he’ll give me one chance. If he won’t — I’m not afraid of men!”

When they were all seated in Abel Quantrell’s library, among the law-books and card-tables there, Nelly asked to be taken to the theatre. Her spirit was feverish, and she felt out of place in a rich man’s home; and she observed that Katy Bosler, with less intelligence, absorbed the surroundings without fear.

“Nelly,” Luther answered, “I think you do not know what te theatre is. It is a place where they play life, and do not work it out. Let us look around and grow wise, and save our money te theatre would get from us.”

“Mr. Booth said I had talent for the stage. It is the call of my nature, and, if you love me, you will take me.”

“Yes, Luther, take her,” Light Pittson interposed; “if it is the call of her inspiration, you must respect it.”

“It is not te call of love, I know,” said Luther; “it is not te inspiration of your mountain home and poor, deserted mother, but of te sergeant who deserted both te army and te wife.”

“It is no worse, Luther, than your restlessness for money, that sends you all over the country before the chickens can crow.”

Luther replied, gently: “If I seek a little money too sinfully I shall be punished for it.”

She accepted his hand, but her soul was wayward, and she said to Light Pittson when they walked aside:

“I have asked him, and been refused. Now I can go by myself.”

Abel Quantrell asked Luther Bosler all about the effect of John Brown’s raid in mountain Maryland, and what vote the Republican candidate would draw there the next autumn, saying that Hannah Ritner, a trusted friend of liberty, had recommended Luther as a firm and just man. Luther heard, thoughtfully, until the fierce spirit of the old man suggested war as a possibility, and sought to incite Luther to resistance.

“Abel Quantrell,” Luther spoke at last, “there you go too far, like te disciple of our Lord, who drew his sword and cut off te high-priest’s ear; and ever since St. Peter’s spirit has been in te Christian church, till Christ is everywhere in sound and symbol, and nowhere in te soul. We Baptists had our St. Peter, too, in John of Leyden, who took a city like John Brown, and prought upon his brethren generations of persecution. But Menno Simons, a former priest of Rome, died peaceful in his cabbage-garden with thousands thirsting for his plood, pecause he would not meet evil with evil. He is te father of all te non-resistants, Quakers and Baptists, and te first of all rebukers of man-holding was us.”

“Sho, sho! Old Brown has cut off the high-priest’s ear this time, and the priest must needs hear everything. Go preach to your people that Christ is for liberty.”

Katy came in at this place, and Abel Quantrell looked at her with steady curiosity, ending with something like approval.

“No wonder Lloyd fell captive to your eyes, young plover; I could have taken them once to my dreams, too.”


 

CHAPTER XXXII.

STRAY ENDS.

At this juncture, Katy again asks for the return of her ring, only to be told it is Abel’s wish that she and Lloyd postpone a decision of marraige. “Sixteen and Twenty-two are not fit for life’s responsibilities. I have laid on my son the injunction, and he has given me the promise . . . to wait one year from spring.” Moreover, he adds, “In that time you are not to communicate with each other!”

As this disheartening edict is delivered, the day is well advanced, and the Boslers and Nelly spend the night.

LUTHER BOSLER was very tired, and, having to drive the girls home all the next day, he went early to bed.

Nelly Harbaugh had been comforting Katy, and Luther had given Light Pittson an account of the romantic Dunkers, who never went to law, and were the detestation of lawyers and constables. Nelly was no more appeased by her betrothed taking notice of this stranger, than by his making no further reference to her curiosity about the theatre.

She was piqued in her own nature that this established city society did not interest her, nor yet put her at ease. Wild and rebellious promptings came to her, and received instigation from the settled fact that Lloyd Quantrell and his friends were not to come to Catoctin Valley any more, that the city people were to leave Catoctin Valley to its quietude and routine, its corn-planting and wood-hauling, manuring and liming, cattle-fattening and distilling, hoeing and harvesting.

She shrank from the recollection of her lonely patch of ground, the consciousness that all her meaner, worldlier suitors had been dismissed, and from the shadow of that Dunker life closing in upon her, with regular attendance on church, responsibility in the “family,” or Dunker congregation, and loss of all admiration, coquetry, and adventure.

“Oh,” she thought, “if I had the temptation here in Baltimore that pressed me so hard in my little cottage but a few nights past, what might I not do — where might I not go?”

Yet what oppressed her most was love. That plain, deep-slumbering man in the next room, had power over her self-reliant nature. If he would only break away from his dull, unambitious, progress-stunting sect, and lead her to the theatre now, and to-morrow to the great capital city, hardly two hours’ journey away, and bathe his strong sense in the dyes of illusion and cultivation, what stuffs and scarlets might the shuttle of their union not weave in a busy future, where wealth, activity, and following would be traced across their children’s prospects, like the marvelous checkered quilt at Bosler’s farm, that was to be the regalia of her wedding-bed!

These thoughts, and the growing darkness of evening, frightened her. Maidenhood, independence, admiration, self-love, temptations, were all to end within another fortnight; and they had already purchased, that day, the preparations for their housekeeping.

She started up and looked in Luther’s door. He had lain down in his clothes, to be the earlier ready for the long-aching ride of the morrow.

She went down-stairs. Abel Quantrell took no notice of her.

Nelly found in the library Light Pittson, reading a book called “Shakespeare.”

“Medicine?” asked Nelly, concerning the subject of the book, “or what Luther calls The Holler Gee?”

“No,” Light Pittson laughed again and again. “This, Miss Harbaugh, is neither the holler gee nor the holler whoa, but the plays of a Mr. William Shakespeare.”

The country girl looked resentment at this reminder of her ignorance.

“Oh!” said she, “now I remember my dear friend, John Wilkes Booth — the great actor, you know — did mention a name like Shakespeare.”

“I am just reading ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ that Mr. Edwin Booth is to play here to-night,” Light said. “I have never seen Shakespeare well acted, and they say this young man is the greatest genius of his time.”

“Read some to me,” Nelly Harbaugh asked, her curiosity triumphing over a certain hostility to the younger woman, who had the promise of stature like Nelly’s own, with a roundness and maternal endowment the mountain-girl had not.

“With delight,” Miss Pittson replied; “the stage is a favorite pleasure I anticipate in Washington, and I should like so much to know a great actor.”

Miss Light read, with school-girl eloquence and gusto, the interesting text, where she selected it, at Jessica’s flight from her father. The style of elocution Nelly critically noted, reflecting how much better she could do than the senator’s daughter, as Light recited:

     “In such a night
  Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew;
  And with an unthrift love did run from Venice.”

“Give me that book,” Nelly called, overbearingly. “I can read it better.”

She glanced over the lines which succeeded, and, standing up, recited, with strong energy:

     “In such a night
  Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well;
  Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
  And ne’er a true one.”

“Why, that is wonderful!” cried Light. “I think you might make an actress. Where did you learn to read?”

“In the plow-field,” replied Nelly, bitterly, “hollering at a borrowed horse that would not gee.”

Light burst out laughing, and laughed against her will.

“Won’t you excuse me?” she pleaded. “I was thinking of something.”

“What?”

“Oh, never mind it.”

“You was thinking of The Holler Gee, I reckon, miss?” Nelly questioned, grimly. “Well, that theolergy is all I am to read, if I marry the preacher up-stairs. He won’t read plays. Come, let us go to the theatre alone, and see this piece!”

“Alone! why, it is dangerous. Surely, you dare not do that!”

“You will see,” Nelly Harbaugh replied; and left the room, all flushed with Light Pittson’s praise of her reading.

In a few minutes she came down in her manifestly country dress, almost absurdly and cheaply flounced; her gay bonnet trimmed with bright berries and “loud” common flowers, her blanket shawl and a peddler’s mixing of winter and summer, that would have made a caricature of less than her fine height, bright skin, and her expression of reserve and decision.

“I can pay my admission,” the girl said; “I won’t pay yours, but you can come along.”

“You are dreadful, Miss Nelly! Surely, you have some acquaintance there.”

“You can keep my secret, if you want to!” the girl said, defiantly. “I may come back.”

She had never been to other than a strolling company’s performance, or that of amateurs, at Harper’s Ferry or Frederick, and was innocent of the bold act she was to do, at that demoralized date, of taking a cheap seat in the highest tier of a city theatre. She stopped to look at the Booth dwelling in Exeter Street, turned the corner, and followed the tide of people up a parallel street to a great, lighted building, with its back against a dark sluice or sewer running through the city. Her money was gripped tightly in her hand, and she was confused by the number of entrances and the files of people going to the ticket-boxes.

“Where is the cheap place?” she asked a policeman, who was eying her at the curbstone.

“The Third tier. You don’t mean that?”

“Yes, the cheapest place.”

He took her along the side of the building toward the smelling sewer or creek, where only one lamp split the almost solid mist with its rays.

“I haven’t seen you before,” the officer said, still looking at her closely. “When did you turn out?”

“I just came this morning,” Nelly answered; “I wanted to see Mr. Booth play. I’m acquainted with his brother.”

“Johnny? Ah! now I see.”

She paid the quarter of a dollar for a ticket, and began to climb dimly lighted stairs, where troops of wild boys went past her hallooing, and she wondered if she would ever reach the top. Her heart failed a little, but she persevered, saying to herself that she could at least look a little while, and slip back to Luther and the snug comfort of her bedroom, and never be found out.

When she reached the top she looked down upon a great depth of seats in tiers — thousands in number as it seemed to her — and at gilded galleries and carved side-boxes in faded gold, and at the green curtain hanging there like the window-blind of another land and world, so suggestive in its blankness, so large to be so unadorned, all faces directed toward it like an oracle of the antique nations, and silent in its green eye as the stagnant lake that harbors the crocodile.

So was it, and so it was to be: that mimic world between this world and both the worlds to come, so seductive and so deadly: joy of the senses, rest of the inquests of toil and intellect, framework of folly and of grandeur, home of genius and of deceit. It lifted the mind to heaven, and sunk the habits to the shadows of hell. It made shame and ignorance look angelic, like peddler’s jewels in pinchbeck gold, and gave subtlety and witchcraft their inspiration and reward; raining on the gypsy plaudits from the purest, and tingeing with some gloss of scholarship and chivalry the mere bully and Alsatian.

There, behind the mystic baize, the school-boy conspirators were conning their little tasks and painting their faces now, trying on their greasy wigs, lacing their paper bodices, making ready their fickle furniture and wooden fruit and food, and shifting their coarse scenery to where the lamps and reflectors would make it cheat like nature’s sheen of dew and sunshine.

And there, in a not distant morrow, in this same theatre where Nelly looked, the ruling conspiracy of government, the great Democratic party, was to play its last scene, and divide like Cæsar’s assassins; and, in four years more, the actors of the opposite and succeeding party were, in this theatre in Baltimore, to give the sword of war and peace a second time to the ruler as yet unknown, who was to be and to be not, walking like Enoch with the ideal, and by this ideal treacherously taken.*

[* In Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, 1860, met the Democratic National Convention; in the same theatre, 1864, Abraham Lincoln was renominated by the Republican National Convention.]

Nelly looked around her, and she was astonished and alarmed. The bare, steep-pitched, low-roofed tier she sat in, was a dense mass of boys and men, huddled together, peering over, exchanging oaths and nicknames, some intoxicated, some already asleep, some full of street wit, others ravenous as if they could gnaw the wooden benches, so spasmodic and fierce were they in everything. Some were without coats, many had not been combed; police of some kind, also common and fierce, disciplined the most disorderly; and Nelly looked for some place where a woman might have privacy in vain.

There were also women there, the strangest people in the tier. For a brief moment Nelly thought they were extravagantly dressed ladies. Their “loud” feathers and velvet trains, powder and rouge, and freedom of manners and of charms, appeared to the mountain orphan the very splendor of society; but a second look, a burst of laughter, and a word that seemed from women’s public lips to invite God’s lightnings down, froze Nelly’s blood!

Where was she? What were these? Dare she stay one moment longer here?

“Hush!” a loud whispered command came; “get down, all of you! The curtain is up.”

She found a place to crouch down at the top of the tier. The next person to her was an old Eastern Shoreman, with a chin which seemed to run down his collar, and be a mere wrinkle of his loose neck; and he was asleep, and said occasionally: “Luff off! luff! P’int on the beam!” In course of time this melancholy man would droop his head on Nelly’s shoulder, but she felt protected by his honest obliviousness, and all her soul was in the play.

The first words met her sensibility like tones of sympathy:

“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad
  It wearies me; you say it wearies you.”

So spoke the merchant Antonio, soon joined by his noble friends all dressed in rich attires with comely hose.

“Your mind is tossing on the ocean,”

one of them says, and so was Nelly’s. Then Bassanio, the lover, borrows the merchant’s money to wed Portia, and Nelly felt the description to be her complement:

     “Her sunny locks
 Hang on her temples like a golden fleece.”

Portia and her maid, and the caskets of gold, silver, and lead, Nelly saw like wondrous apparitions; and then came in the piercing eyes and pointed face, like jewels set in flesh, of Edwin Booth, as the Jew usurer, at only twenty-six years of age, his youth revealed in his fine limbs and crafty ankles, his head alert and manly everywhere, life set in him on silken nerves, and character inlaid with strange translucencies like gold and tortoise-shell.

He had decision like the wasp’s in rage, and grace like the young cock at morning striding the poultry world. Something subtle was woven in his manliness like guile in the pagan gods.

Beauty and terror seized the country girl as this disguised Apollo spun his deadly mesh around Antonio, and bound him in a pound of flesh to repay the loan of friendship.

“P’int on the beam! Luff hard!” the oysterman at her side muttered, looking at Nelly idiotically, and asking:

“Whair we dropped anchor? P’inted whair?”

He gazed at her awhile, and was again asleep, nodding, and now the curtain rose once more upon the Jew’s abode and most unfilial daughter Jessica.

Nelly’s sensitive excitement, seeking everywhere for her excuse and rebellion, made Jessica in her mind the likeness of herself, and Shylock’s avarice her lover’s disposition. She heard the Jew’s servant say:

“‘Launcelot, budge not!’ ‘Budge’! says the fiend; ‘budge not,’ says my conscience. . . . To run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend.”

Who was Nelly thinking of as “the fiend”? She stared at the play as if it were another work of Hannah Ritner, the conjurer.

Now came “the fiend” of Jessica in — beautiful Lorenzo; and at first Nelly thought it was Mr. John Booth, so much alike, to unpracticed eyes, do actors look in their mediæval clothes and dazzling powdered and penciled faces, and she was not soon convinced of the contrary, as Lorenzo took Jessica’s secret letter, saying she would rob her father and fly with the actor, who thus excused her:

“And never dare misfortune cross her foot,
 Unless she do it under this excuse —
 That she is issue to a faithless Jew.”

Why did Nelly recall her recreant father, and accuse herself of his wayward blood? Alas! the well-deserving never stigmatize their ancestors, but in the crimes of these the willful seek incentive!

Then Shylock’s penurious soul and habits in his household seemed to comfort the country girl:

“What, Jessica! thou shalt not gormandize,
 And sleep and snore and rend apparel out,
 Nor thrust your head into the public street.
 Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter
 My sober house! By Jacob’s staff, I swear, . . .
‘Fast bind! fast find!’

All this seemed Luther Bosler’s early rising, rebuke of morning sleep and worldly apparel and of holiday joys, while “By Jacob” seemed to mean Jake Bosler, with his everlasting “Bi’m-by.” Yet Nelly’s rage had the heart-burn in it, and she wondered why Jessica could sing:

“Let me, then, in wanton play
 Sigh and gaze my soul away?

The daughter of Shylock slipped down from the casement with her father’s plunder and fell into Lorenzo’s arms, who protested for her the compliment so soothing to Nelly:

“For she is wise,
 And fair she is,
 And true she is;
 And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
 Shall she be placed in my constant soul.”

“Why,” Nelly thought, as the curtain rolled down upon this praise of deceit, “the people applaud that girl’s ingratitude, though she dishonors her old father! And so do I! So does her lover reward her with his constancy!”

“Luff!” the Eastern Shoreman muttered, awakened by the applause. “What! not slipped anchor yit?” He stared at her in a melancholy way a while, and then began to pucker and to cry.

“What’s the matter, sir?” Nelly asked.

“I got a darter big as you,” the man replied. “If she was hyar, I’d cry. I’ll cry fur you. I’ll give you her quarter. Take it, pooty, an’ luff off.”

He had a quarter of a dollar in his hand. She was about to repel it, when she saw men and women looking on, and, to stop his sniveling, she took the silver and put it in her pocket. Avarice rose up at that moment, and she thought, “I have seen the show for nothing.”

The rising curtain showed young Edwin Booth, all fired to his mettle, cursing his daughter’s flight till Nelly’s blood ran cold, and thanking God for Antonio’s losses and shipwrecks; yet in the crude girl’s ear the glory of the actor’s art put down the human interest, and started the wild passion, too often impelled on slippery virtue, to be an actress like Portia, who next took the scene as custodian of her dead father’s casket, in which her husband and her fortune lay for her suitors to choose. “Of course,” thought Nelly, “Bassanio will choose the gold casket, as it is worth the most.” He chose the leaden one, and made Nelly reflect, “Is that my dull lover, with the leaden eyes and sure instinct of right?” But Portia’s speech again inspired Nelly’s ambition, and seemed to reason with her country fears, as Portia declaimed:

“I, an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed,
 Happy in this, she is not yet so old
 But she may learn.”

The ring which Portia gives her engaged lover awoke the country girl’s superstitions as resembling Katy Bosler’s lost pledge; and next she saw the chaste Portia, too, take secret flight, fresh from her marriage vows, and treacherous Jessica installed in Portia’s palace. The play-maker in his sectarian uncharity was rewarding evil-doing, and confirming a worldly course in at least one of his auditors.

“What time is it, sir?” asked Nelly, as the curtain fell on act the third.

“Ten; but I sha’n’t go. Luff away from me now. I’m o’ family!”

He raised his voice, and half the people of the tier looked where they sat.

“I must go if it’s ten o’clock. Don’t cry out so!” Nelly said.

“She won’t luff,” loudly whined the tipsy oysterman. “She’ll run me down, and I’ve sot my lanterns by the law. I’ve got my own family, but she’ll run me down!”

Nelly gazed at the man in wonder and alarm. Her intuitions were quick as her necessity; for people were running over the benches and crowding down the steep, narrow aisles to see the occasion for an altercation, and she saw among these overwilling witnesses some women unescorted, and giggling childishly. It thus occurred to Nelly that this poor man had mistaken her for such as those female frequenters of the place, and was under the temptation of her beauty, which his conscience was resisting in the shouting Methodist way, general to his peninsula.

“Let me pass! The man is crazy!” Nelly called in the tempered boldness of her fear and indignation.

“She took my money,” piped the man’s high, quavering voice, “but she won’t luff off!”

A terrible word began to sound through that high, steaming, whispering loft:

“Thief!” “She’s a thief!” “He says she took his money!”

A thousand eyes seemed to stare at the girl; she could discern the people below turning their backs to the curtain and throwing their faces upward to look for the commotion, and opera-glasses from the boxes and front stalls were pointed toward her.

Despair was fast freezing her tongue to her throat. She saw herself the subject of a police item in the morning, the inhabitant all night of a police-station, rejected of her lover and his family, and flung back into the mountains like a crippled bird, never to fly nor renew its plumage again.

In this appalling instant a person, about whom something seemed familiar, though Nelly in her excitement took no heed of him, pushed right through the motley people to Nelly’s side, and seized the Eastern shoreman and hurled him up the aisle, and sat down by Nelly, exclaiming loudly:

“It’s nothin’ but a drunken man with the delirium tremens.”

The fickle crowd set on the Eastern Shoreman, and chased him down the stairs into the street.

“Silence, there, all of you! The curtain’s rung up,” an officer cried, looking down on Nelly and her deliverer.

She determined to go the moment she was unobserved, and breathed a kind of prayer to God and her mother that, if they would only let her depart in safety, she would join the Dunker fold, and grudge the world its snares and excitements no more: but something in the splendid act below held her spell-bound: the Jew with scales and knife confronted the merchant to cut his heart’s flesh out at the award of the duke of the country. Young Edwin Booth was now in the nervous exaltation of his art, and spoke this unintended picture of the slave system of America:

“You have among you many a purchased slave
 Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules,
 You use in abject and in slavish parts
 Because you bought them; shall I say to you,
‘Let them be free, marry them to your heirs;
 Why sweat they under their burdens?’
 You will answer,
‘The slaves are ours’; so do I answer you:
‘The pound of flesh is mine!’”

Thus Shakespeare, universal as the sun, had thrown his prophetic glance upon the Dred-Scott decision, made in young Booth’s generation by a Marylander as chief justice of the whole republic, that slaves “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Emphatic applause shook the great theatre, for Shylock had been confirmed by nearly a full American bench.

How Nelly’s heart bounded in ecstasy and envy to hear Portia, the woman, in the disguise of a lawyer, plead for the stay of such insensate law:

“Mercy is above the sceptered sway,
 It is enthroned in the hearts of kings.”

So was it, for the audience loudly approved this sentiment, also, and most eminently where the poorest people sat; and they, being the majority, were the “enthroned.” Nelly forgot her prayer, the time, her fears, and everything but that most vivid scene of one law-authorized usurer whetting his knife to cut the bankrupt’s heart out, and nothing but woman’s wit and skill to stay the murderer.

The woman-lawyer triumphed. The butcher departed, foiled and beaten and broken-hearted, and his wealth confiscated to his false child.

The gallant actor wrung from every condition in that theatre a meed of approbation subtile as his own art, some approving of Shylock’s fate and some of the artist’s skill to make him hateful yet imposing. The act closed with the surrendering of Portia’s ring to the lawyer, in whose part her husband had not known her:

“You swore to me, when I did give it you,
 That you would wear it till the hour of death,
 And that it should lie with you in the grave;
 Even so void is your false heart of truth.”

No ring had Nelly Harbaugh of Luther Bosler but the ring of loving arms and his rugged kiss. She thought on Katy’s lost ring, and on her own mutiny and loss of honorable faith, and started, pale-faced, to retrieve her husband.

It was too late.

The new person who had taken the seat by her side whispered to her. What he said was so low and familiar that it drove from her mind every safeguard of forethought or prudence, and awakened the spirit which was wont to draw down the old gun in her cabin and march insulters to her gate.

She looked at the man.

It was one of the Logans, the slave-hunters of the mountains.

He repeated his insinuation, having, no doubt, recognized her as from his own neighborhood, where she enjoyed more than a local fame for beauty.

The spirit of the poor white race, that always disdained the slave-buyer, sprang to Nelly’s temples.

“You think you’re talking to a nigger, I reckon,” she exclaimed, in uncontrollable rage. “Take your change!”

She slapped his mouth with all that strength manual labor sometimes gives to women. The blow resounded like a pistol-shot.

The coward, smarting with the pain, struck her with his fist.

The gallery-gods raised the cry of “fight,” and the officer present arrested both Nelly and her degraded neighbor, and passed them over to the same policeman who had shown Nelly to the gallery-door.

They were marched to a station-house, followed by a motley crowd.

Indifference and despair now seized upon the orphan girl — the transitional emotion from her combativeness. She gave up the future and the past, cunning and repentance, love and hope, and stood before the committing clerk or sergeant, pale, beautiful, and cold.

They took from a cell the poor old melancholy Eastern Shoreman, now sobered by mortification, and he testified that she had neither robbed him nor addressed him, and he wished to pay her fine, with tears in his eyes.

Nelly refused his kindness with contempt.

“I don’t want to keep you here all night,” the committing official said, “nor do I want to turn you out, lest you might do worse. This seems to have been your first appearance in that part of the theatre. Give your name!”

“Never,” replied Nelly Harbaugh. “I have only gone to the theatre and protected myself. This exposure is ruin enough. I will answer nothing.”

The police people began to feel interested; but the girl saw that their pity was not for one they supposed to be respectable. Her motive to go alone to the theatre was above their understanding, she perceived; and thus the purest motive which could inspire so bold and ignorant a step — the motive of pure intellect — had brought her to the inexplicable depths of a false position.

The brilliant scene at the theatre an instant before, the splendid adventure of woman in Portia, to take a lawyer’s part, the late elation of spirits and of ambition in Nelly, had been like the lightning at the precipice, hurling woman deeper down.

A sense of universal injustice swept over the poor stranger. Her lover had refused to consider her intellectual nature; her father had abandoned her; her very name was not her own, but her poor mother’s maiden legacy.

“If you will not tell your name you must stand committed for disorderly conduct. I do not insist what name you shall give,” the kindly official said.

The rough, real interest in his tones, and other compassionate eyes looking on, swayed her fierce feelings, and she could neither advance nor recede.

“Oh! cowards, men everywhere!” she cried, in a gush of tears and passion, and throwing her head upon the rail that barred her from the clerk, her hair fell to the floor like Jupiter’s insidious shower of gold.

Strong, firm steps came up the bare floor.

A voice spoke to the magistrate: “Here is a mistake, or an outrage! What charge is against this lady?”

“I have offered to release her if she will give her name. She will not give even a false name.”

“I will answer for her. It is a respectable girl from the country, unacquainted with the city’s spoiled places, and desiring nothing worse than to see a play at my invitation. Take down the name of Miss Nelly Starr, of Belair, Harford county.”

She turned and saw the fine, intrepid face, and graceful, genteel figure of John Booth.

“My deliverer! My only friend!” cried Nelly, held in his muscular arms and respectfully drawn to his breast, like Jessica to Lorenzo, and kissed once in manly compassion with the barest tremor of affection.

“Enter Miss Starr’s name. Discharged on Mr. John Wilkes Booth’s recognizance! Take this man Logan’s fine, and throw him out of the building!”

As Logan passed Nelly and Mr. Booth on the street, his chagrin of animal and social expectations vented itself in one unfortunate remark:

“Run away with a fancy actor, heigh?”

Booth had knocked him into the street before his sentence was well finished.

“Kill him! kill him!” commanded the girl, her intense feelings breaking in the fierce shout for blood and reparation.

The slave-catcher was followed up by the actor’s cool, enjoying, and skilled pugilism, tumbled over every time he arose, headed off at every point of escape, and finally he ran back into the station-house for protection.

“Do you know that he has bruised your face — the coward!” Booth said, panting, as he walked along. “Your friends can’t see you for a week with that scar. The officer at the theatre had sent for me, suspecting that you had made a mistake in going into that vile gallery, Nelly, and he said you mentioned my name to him. How natural that you should think of me; for you have been in my mind all day! Come in!”

He led the way into an oyster-house, and to a private room up the stairs. She thanked him with gratitude and pride.

“You, John — to think of me with all your prospects and acquaintances? Oh, is it true, or made believe?”

“I love you,” replied the actor, in tones low and firm, articulated like chimes of steel, and his dark eyes shining the eloquence of passion. “I feel my fate in your untrained and strong maturity. You can not evade me, Nelly. I demand that you feel my will and love me, now.”

He took her hands in his, and held her off, and looked his strength and gentleness together, and slowly drew her to him.

“I have earned a kiss of real affection. I must have it.”

He clasped her to his athletic frame, still in the manly tingling of the conflict with her enemy, and ardent with victory and invincible masculine resolution.

The old gun of her father was not above the door; her strength of citadel and rural independence was gone. He kissed her in her betrothed one’s place and with a betrothed one’s confidence.

“Your name is Nelly Starr hereafter; for you are to be my star, and play such parts as Portia to me. I am going to Belair to study, and you shall be my pupil there; and so I gave your residence to the police as at that haunt of my childhood where our family grew up. All arrangements are made. I am to be the only Booth in the Southern States, and make my fortune there. — Waiter, some wine and terrapin!”

“You do admire me, John? Can you even love me?”

“I swear, Nelly, to be devoted to you alone — to lay my youth before your beauty, and to cherish and worship you! All that you can learn shall be taught you. All the career I can reach, you shall share and conquer in. Begin the world anew, come to my arms and heart at once, with faith and perfect love!”


 

CHAPTER XXXIII.

LOVE’S FIERCE PROBATION.

THE executions at Charlestown ended in the middle of March, 1860, with Stevens and Hazlett going manfully to death. Three months before this, four of Brown’s men were executed in one day — the two negroes, Green and Copeland, an hour earlier than Cook and Ned Coppock.

Scarcely had the last man been hanged in Virginia, when the Democratic party convention of all the Union was held at Charleston in South Carolina, and the slave States withdrew, because they could not make a President to force slavery into Kansas, whence John Brown and his sons had expelled it. This convention adjourned to Baltimore, but, before it reconvened, Abraham Lincoln had been nominated by the young Republican party in the nearly as obscure city of Chicago.

Another world had grown up beyond the termination of the old Maryland National Road, and all the presidential candidates, four in number — of whom three received their nominations in Baltimore — were from this West — Lincoln, Douglas, Breckenridge, Bell. The loins of free labor made such increase, that counting slaves as votes had ceased to be a counterpoise.

Ever since Presidents of the United States had been nominated by delegate or popular conventions, Baltimore city had been the party focus of the Union, and the seat of nearly all such conventions. The day of its prestige was over when, at the theatre where Nelly lost her content, the slave States again seceded from the convention there, by whose verdict they had agreed honorably to abide, and there the majority set up a Western man.

Maryland cast her electoral vote for the extension of slavery into the free public domain, the great remainder of her votes going to the candidate of parleying and powwowing on the subject, and only twenty-two hundred and ninety-four votes, out of above ninety-two thousand, being cast in Maryland for Lincoln, the victor.

Maryland, indeed, had always lacked a coherent public character, and was a fortuitous settlement rather than a moral undertaking, and no general fact had disturbed her monotony in two centuries, but Baltimore.

This powerful new city, lying across the gateway to the Federal capital, had consulted its momentary interests and decided against drawing the line of freedom down a little way, so as to stand upon it; and only one great and passionate citizen of Baltimore, educated at a college of the far West, saw where his native State should take her place.

Mr. Henry Winter Davis, who has already appeared in this story, advocated the union of his party with Mr. Lincoln’s party, and sneered at the decision of the Maryland chief justice, who had argued out the pro-slavery tenet of the Supreme Court, as “a ridiculous farrago of bad history, worse law, and low partisanship.”

If there was the equal of Henry Winter Davis on the other side, he is not to be found among Maryland’s public men. The nearest approach to him in self-contained purpose, deep and silent passion, mental courage, and haughty ambition, was John Wilkes Booth.

As Mr. Davis had learned in the West the forgotten realities of freedom, Mr. Booth had learned in the South the spirit that stood ready to reopen the African slave-trade, as Henry Winter Davis had declared, months before the raid of John Brown, saying: “The preparation of men’s minds for the grand end has already begun, either consciously or unconsciously. The great English experiment of emancipation is loudly proclaimed a failure. The party of the South is ready to make the issue: repeal of the laws against the slave-trade, or Rebellion!”

Booth had no training nor regular profession, was a very young man, and his intellectual nature was narrow; but he possessed more than the average maturity of persons of his traditions, and, to use the expression of one who knew him from childhood, “he was all man from the child, and the feet, up.”*

[* John E. Owen, comedian.]

If his knowledge of the world and of civilized principles was no greater than the constraints and illusions of an actor and an actor’s son, they were as real as the understanding of any of those who expected to return America to Asiatic conditions, and then bully Europe out of her attitude toward slavery. Booth’s habits were as good as the young men’s around him, his manners were generally better, his loyalty to friendship and to locality unquestioned, indeed, reputed; and he had those powers valued by savage and statesman — still confidence, and “the still hunt.”

He had not only kept Nelly Harbaugh’s confidence, but Lloyd Quantrell was convinced that he did not know where she had gone, and no imputing of the girl’s principle or virtue would extract from Booth a retort.

“He can not be her lover,” Lloyd reasoned, “and not resent things said against her, at least by his looks.”

In like silence and still-craft, Booth took Lloyd during that spring to the village of Belair, half a day’s ride by horse to the north, where Booth essayed to study his father’s old parts — in order to “star” them in the South — at a long, quaint tavern with a swinging sign in a retired corner of the court-house square. Nelly Starr, as she is henceforth to be known, was looking down on Lloyd Quantrell from her play-book, and he never suspected her to be near.

Precocious in his coolness and in his trespasses, Booth listened more than he spoke; yet, when he was gone, his friend always felt lonesome.

His moral standard was purely traditional: to hate “meanness,” to defend women, to resent insult, to stand by all his own family; and yet, he was not open in his nature as he appeared, coveted the pearl of woman’s honor, seldom elevated any companion’s nature, in his appetites was predatory, and often low in his affiliations. He seldom tolerated his equals from the stage, but would take mere vagrants up and use them for his willful rides and strolls. He had joined a volunteer company, of anti-national bias, at Belair, and was full of warlike thoughts and feats of prowess.

Had Abel Quantrell permitted his son to love, he would have let politics alone in that critical year of 1860; but, kept from Katy, and sent into influential society, he imbibed the violent feelings of social Maryland, where free speech was confined to the mountain counties, and a convention of the Republican party could not be held.

Two such local conventions, four years apart, were mobbed — the last of them assembled by the subsequent Maryland member of Mr. Lincoln’s Cabinet; and when Mr. Lincoln’s wife and young children came through Baltimore, “an immense crowd with groans and hootings”* received the Chief Magistrate-elect of their country, as they supposed, but he, advised by wisdom, had passed through Baltimore at night, a matter of infinite jest to the ignorant scribblers there; but the murderous spirit that followed him to Washington and used the hospitality of a Baltimorean’s theatre to destroy him, was in that same hooting crowd he had avoided.

[* A rebel history of Maryland, 1879.]

It was the murder of free speech and the slavery of opinion which took Maryland into the vortex of loss and folly; for had meetings and debate been free during the few years of inquiry, the paltry two thousand slaves held in Baltimore would never have been the masters of the city.

Negro-traders, like Abel Quantrell’s brother, dictated the reasoning of jurists and the consciences of theologians. All heaven, in that most gentle atmosphere, displayed of eve the Star-spangled Banner in the skies of the Chesapeake, but the sons of them for whom the national anthem had been made, tolerated in their streets the paroquet colors of South Carolina, and received her “embassador” when the heir of Washington had not where to lay his head.

The Eastern Shore, more loyal to its plain ancestry, had furnished the Governor of Maryland in that perilous time, and he, guided by Henry Winter Davis, refused to convene the State Legislature — the conspirators’ method of capturing unwilling States — first to draw Joseph away from home, and next to sell him to Egypt, and last, to show his bloody and ravished garment of bright colors at the desolate door of his fathers.

In this way Virginia was betrayed by beleaguering her Legislature and convention around with murderers, like those who had gone to Islamize Kansas; and when Virginia surrendered, the war passed on to her soil, and left Maryland a sullen or frightened hostage in the Union, with brave soldiers here and there, but many a chronic Thersites or Caliban.

Lloyd Quantrell’s year of banishment from Katy expired as Virginia gave up the ghost. With a hungry and troubled heart he took the railway for the Catoctin country, hearing, as he left Baltimore, the insensate salutes on the Federal Hill for the secession of Virginia, and the capture of Fort Sumter by South Carolina.

Uncertain where to find a conveyance among the little towns along the Potomac, Lloyd continued on to Harper’s Ferry, and found everything there in confusion; the people were for the Government which employed them, but the Government superintendent had gone off to Richmond to vote for secession, and rival sentinels were patrolling the place.

At midnight the State troops were entering Harper’s Ferry from Charlestown, when the small guard of the armories crossed the bridge to Maryland, and an explosion echoed along the hollow mountains and lighted their gloomy countenances with the glow of the resurrection-day; the splendid workshops were riven to pieces, and, as the flames climbed the Rifle-works, the bell in the falling tower was heard to ring as it went down into the ruins.

“There, there! Do you hear it?” a voice said at Quantrell’s elbow. “It’s a-waiting for me. It’s a-ringing for me. I can’t git to it. Oh, I’m gone clar off of my Americanus!

Leaving this old “suck” of a ruin on foot, Quantrell walked to Middletown. Excitement over the destruction of the country, and the probable invasion of their border realm, stopped all the usual facilities and conveyances, and it was evening before Lloyd reached Bosler’s farm.

The spotted setter he had given to Katy came out and attacked him vehemently at the gate, but Katy appeared herself, and was lifted and carried in his mighty arms.

How splendid she looked! How more grown and child-womanly!

“Did you expect me, darling?”

“Of course I did. Luter and fader have gone away and left te house to us. Nopody is here but Fader Fenwick.”

A sudden thrill ran through Lloyd at this information.

“Katy,” he whispered, drawing the yielding form deeply inward, “he shall marry us. Now, darling — or it may be never!”

A scream from Katy was hushed in a kiss of man’s decision.

“Lloyd, he won’t.”

“Katy, he shall!”

“O Lloyd, my fader! — and Luter, who is my pastor! What will tey say?”

“Katy, we are past everybody’s saying. It is love alone with us — the desire of our hearts. Take the step with me! The priest is here. God may have sent him. We are here—”

“Te ring!” whispered Katy, with superstitious awe. “We have not got one.”

“We shall find one, if I must make it out of the clasp of your mother’s old Dutch Bible with the fire-tongs!”

He took her in. Hugh Fenwick was reading his Directorium Sacerdotale, and Lloyd took it up and read of the “vain cleric,” who “gives way to thoughts of self-complacency,” etc. The suggestion was not lost on Quantrell’s alert thought.

“Hugh,” he said, as they sat at the table, and some of the Dunker still’s liquor had warmed their blood, “you must be a full priest now — no make-believe? And I know you will be a smart one!”

“Oh!” replied Fenwick, maturely, “I am hardly a seminarist now. The fathers consult me on the rubrics and grave matters of that kind.”

“Have you got an outfit, Father Hugh? I mean the gown, and stole, and all that?”

“Oh, yes; I’ve brought a surplice with me and a stole. One never knows when he may be called on for unction, or baptism—”

“Or marriage, too, I guess!” cried Katy, deadly pale.

“Pshaw!” said Lloyd. “He can’t marry people. That’s above Hugh!”

“Oh, yes; I’m qualified,” said Fenwick, blushing; “that’s the easiest of our duties.”

“Great Heaven! You?”

The complacent Hugh allowed Quantrell to praise his robes when they were put on, and heard, with gratified vanity, compliments upon his pulpit impressiveness.

“Hugh, our dear, proved friend, I am enrolled, and sworn to go to the war. Our company leaves for Virginia, probably this week. Give me that silver ring I see on your finger as a keepsake of you!”

Katy was listening, with her great eyes on the rim of her pallid face.

“Friend Lloyd, it is a poor little thing; take it!”

“Hugh, it is the greatest friendship you can do in this world but one — and that you are to do now. This ring must unite Katy and me this hour!”

“Sir,” remarked the seminarist, with indignation, “this is an impertinence — a trick!”

“No, our friend and tried young father, it is anything but that. It is what churches and marriages were made for. I have but a night to tarry here. — The time has come, Katy, when I, too, am a pilgrim and a stranger. Will this man prove himself our friend, or forsake us when we need him first?”

“Fader Hugh,” Katy cried, with the impulsiveness of despair, “Lloyd asks you!”

The dog Albion, observing some commotion, barked vigorously, and gamboled in hysterical delight.

“I fear,” faltered Fenwick, “that to marry you is beyond my powers.”

“No more of that!” Lloyd Quantrell cried; “you have boasted of your authority to marry. Marry us; or be a false priest and a false friend! I shall leave my wife in your charge. If to marry us embarrasses you now, we can all keep the secret till better times.”

“It is absolutely necessary to do that,” Hugh Fenwick said. “Promise, both of you, never to reveal this ceremony till we all agree to do so!”

Katy seemed to protest. Her lover kissed her to peace.

In deep embarrassment the priest performed his office; and Albion howling thereat, Lloyd fastened around his neck the horseshoe on the tree.

“Katy,” said he, coming in, “the doves have come back from the South, and have got the old nest in the tree.”


Dawn had not come on the dark Catoctin hills that had gamboled the night away, and rested now in outlines of slumber, when Luther Bosler, going to the barn, was met by Lloyd Quantrell.

“Brother,” said Lloyd, “I must have a horse to take me to the railroad. My character is at stake unless I reach Baltimore to-day.”

When Lloyd had gone, and Luther and his father were hauling wood from the distant mountains, Hugh Fenwick came down the stairs like a ghost.

“What ails you, Father Hugh?” sighed Katy.

“Sister, I am anathema. Tempted by pride and praise, I claimed to have the right to marry people. It was a wicked assumption, for I am not yet in holy orders.”

The dog howled at the threshold.

Katy fell by the fireplace, with her head in the ashes.

“Ah-coo-roo! coo-roo!” spoke the doves in the tree, which had quit the South just in time.


Quantrell reached Baltimore in season to be taken to a meeting called for the purpose of resisting the passage of more troops through the city; some United States artillery and some German companies from Pennsylvania having marched through that afternoon, despite threats, insults, and ruffianism, to protect the national capital. The nature of that meeting was black and insurrectionary, and Quantrell joined his military friends right afterward; and the bottle was the presiding genius there as everywhere.

He could not find his father; but Light Pittson was in the house, and Lloyd told her he was committed to leave for Virginia at call. The girl, unacquainted with more than the spirit of the hour, commended his resolution.

Next day Lloyd arose late, and heard a wild din in the streets.

“The Yankees! The myrmidons! More of them are coming.”

He drew on his clothes, and fell in with the mongrel swarm of tatterdemalions and bravoes — the unthinking, the pale, and the fierce — and they swept him toward the harbor of the city, where the flood-tide bore the bowsprits of ships nearly across that street where the one track of a railroad alone connected the capital of the Union with the great States of the North, just risen from the swoon of the news of disunion.

The rioters were marching on that track thousands strong, as if Jones’s Falls and its pollution had burst, and were deluging the quays.

Quantrell learned that a portion of a Northern “army” had just been hauled through the town in cars by horses; but that some fragments had remained behind, and that these were now to be murdered. People were already tearing up the track and piling stones and ship-anchors in the streets.

In a few minutes a moving coherence of some kind was seen at a place in the broad street, where a bridge crossed the great open sewer of the city. It seemed like a stone wall moving yet crumbling, and at the head of it waved a sort of color or flag, torn and gay and dirty. The air was mottled with things that seemed to be tossed out of a machine, or revolving like bats or butterflies in the wind.

As the moving disaster drew nearer, there was seen enveloped a little band of men staggering under arms, beaten and bloody, the air and the street spouting stones at them; and at their head a miscreant of destruction was carrying, to insult them, the new piece of finery conceived in the Southern barracoons — the insurgent, separating, or confederated flag.

Quantrell picked up a stone.

He saw at the head of that little, tired soldiery, the mayor of the city, walking by their officer, pale and dusty, but doing his duty at the risk of his life.

The troops came so close that Lloyd could hear them panting. Their tongues were dry, like those of sheep driven without water. Here and there one would be tripped up by some coward and fall beneath his heavy and unwonted accoutrements. Yet the eyes of all were shining at something farther on, and seeing this alone.

“What was it they saw?” Quantrell often asked, afterward, but could never tell. It might have been the unprotected capital of their country, or the presence of death, or the worship of a faithful posterity which could feel for their agony that day.

They numbered less than two hundred; they spoke no more than the ox going to slaughter. The Christian martyrs in the Roman arena were not beset by as many thousands nor by more ravening beasts. Yet all that these men were doing was obeying a proclamation of law and using a peaceable post-road of the country to go to their capital.

Quantrell was fascinated with the scene of duty and of dread. The stone he was holding in his hand was wrested from him, and the villain who seized it hurled it against an old man limping at the soldiery’s side, with a face like the dust of battle on the skins of the dead.

“That is my father!” Quantrell gasped, and rushed where the old man fell.

“Go back, sir! This is my place,” a woman spoke, rising, with Abel Quantrell in her arms.

Lloyd gazed, and saw the face of Hannah Ritner, stained with his father’s blood.

The butchers of the mob had now presumed too far; it had become a question of resistance or death. Hemmed in and blocked fast, stoned and spit upon, prodded with staves and stuck with awls, deserted by police and outlawed in that place of public commerce, the soldiery from near the ancient battle-field of Lexington waited for one word, and it came, at last, with nasal curtness and meaning:

“Ready! — Fire!”

Then rolled through Baltimore the echoes of Fort Sumter, and the streets, all strewed with flying scavengers, ended the war on that spot forever.

The flight of the rioters gave the police room to form in, and the volunteers of Massachusetts were molested no more, save by that local chatter which ever follows in the wake of the brave.


Lloyd’s father was dangerously hurt, but the son demanded permission to see him that night.

“Father,” said he, “I am going — you must know where. I little thought the first bloodshed would be upon your aged face. Wide as we differ, father, there ought to be love between us. Can you not forget the cause I go to fight for, and bless your son?”

“You will never see me again!” Abel Quantrell spoke, his face with lines of blood upon it, but the mouth firm as the dead Cid’s brought from his tomb to fight the Moors. “I can not bless by my finite power. My heart has been warmed of late toward you, and if you could stay here, where Heaven should make you see your duty, affection might grow strong between us. How can I say ‘God bless you,’ sir, when, blessing you, I dare not ask liberty for your slaves, against whose sorrows you go to war?”

“I have anticipated that, father,” Lloyd replied. “You can bless me, sir. Here is a bill of sale of every slave I own, prepared to meet this hour and your consistency. Take it and set them free, and say, ‘God bless you, Lloyd!’”

He laid the paper upon the bed.

Abel Quantrell drew his son to his face and kissed him with emotion.

“The blessing of your State go with you, when Maryland is free my son, take my farewell from her shield, ‘Crescite et multiplicamini.’”*

[* “Grow and multiply,” the motto of Maryland.]

Hannah Ritner whispered in his ear:

“When thou killest everything,
  Still the turtle-dove will sing.”


 

CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE OLD SLAVE COUNTIES.

QUANTRELL left Baltimore, with other recruits, for the seceding or insurgent government — two lads, Arnold and O’Laughlin, and the liquor-dealer Martin, who had business in the peninsulas below the city of Washington, where, also, were situated Quantrell’s lands and slaves.

These peninsulas stretch eighty miles south of Baltimore city, and are comprised between two broad sheets of tidal water — the Chesapeake Bay coming up to Baltimore, and the great river Potomac, ceasing its tides at the city of Washington. The general peninsula is divided lengthwise by the river Patuxent, flowing halfway between the two large cities, and further compressing the land for traversable purposes to the breadth of only twenty miles east from Washington. It was forty miles by the railroad from Baltimore to Washington, and Quantrell then had forty miles to go by private conveyance before he should be able to cross into Virginia at Pope’s Creek, near the old court-house town of Port Tobacco.

This Pope’s Creek suggested to our traveler that the parent country of the Roman Catholic religion in the English colonies was in this old isolated district of Maryland.

While Raleigh was seeking to plant Virginia, a young Tory politician at court cut out from Raleigh’s colony the province of Maryland, and introduced the old religion there in its decaying and persecuted times, after the Catholic conspiracy of Guy Fawkes. After a course of fifty years a Protestant revolution arose in Maryland, and for nearly a century the Romish worship was suppressed, or till the American War of Independence released all worships. In that interval the old faith of Queen Mary smoldered and the Lords Baltimore had professed Protestantism; but John Carroll, a priest of Rome and educated on the Continent, gathered his folds together, and brought over refugee priests from the French Revolution; and thus, in eighty years, Maryland had again become the proselytizing province of American Romanism, with its springs in Baltimore and its antiquities in the old Potomac peninsula.

Upon the edge, indeed, within the rim, of this old English Catholicism stood the American capital, and much of its population was of the faith of Calvert and Catesby, while a Jesuit college and the oldest convent in the land overhung the city from the steeps of Georgetown. Hardly fifty thousand people remained in Washington, but soldiers were quartered in the halls of Congress, and all the railroads to the north had been destroyed the night following the riots in Baltimore.

The city of Washington stood, the melancholy monument of slavery incorporated with a democratic system, and extending through that white democracy, to the lowest man, the prejudices not of the democracy, but of the slavery. It had resisted all the efforts of Congress to make it a free district, yet slavery had spoiled its proportions, and, originally a square, it was now only the Maryland side of the square, and gave some force to Abel Quantrell’s remark, every time he saw the map of the District of Columbia:

“Cube it!”

There stood a long Grecian Capitol on a nearly naked hill, with the splintered drum of an iron dome, like a broken bundle of fasces, unfinished in the middle. A broad, unsightly avenue stretched from its base, between stunted rows of generally mean-looking houses, to a Treasury Department in borrowed architecture, and some other ministerial buildings,, surrounding the sorrowful new President’s abode, out of whose official window he could look upon a neglected obelisk of Washington, halting like the pillar of Lot’s wife till Sodom and Gomorrah should burn in chastising fire.

The same glance which showed Abraham Lincoln the decivilizing impotence of slavery showed him the new rebel flag hoisted on the Virginia hills — that Virginia whence his forefathers emigrated to the West. Lloyd had the privilege of seeing this man for the only time in his life, when the President walked, the day of Lloyd’s arrival, from his white official mansion to the war building.

Lloyd and his three companions encountered a tall man, a small one, and one neither small nor tall, but wearing spectacles.

“I’ll swaw,” whispered Martin, “if yer ain’t the devil himself!”

The other lads looked up and gave room.

The tall man glanced down from a long and peculiar face, and said:

“Good-morning, friends!”

The two others would not have spoken at all but for the tall man’s condescension, and he with the spectacles barely noticed our loiterers; while the little man, with hardly any color about him, smiled at them out of a boyish, old face.

“Who is it?” asked Lloyd, seeing only one face of the three, and that had seemed to shine down into him and through him.

“The little fellow is See-ward, their Secretary of State. He un in specticles is the great lawyer in Washington — Stanton.”

“But the other man, with that noble voice: who was it? Where have I seen him?”

“Why, on every picture and newspaper for the last year, Lloyd. That’s the Yankee President, Abe Lincoln.”

Quantrell drew his breath in a woe he might have borrowed from that magistrate’s gentle forlornness.

“Oh, boys,” said he, “I hoped he was an uglier and a more wicked or degraded man. That is a gentleman, and the truth has not been told us.”

A hired carriage took our adventurers to heights of clay and forest overlooking a broad arm of the Potomac, called the Eastern Branch, where were a navy-yard and a bridge, guarded by hastily improvised militia. As they looked down from these hills at the squalid city of the government, basking in blue haze and in the cleft of broad, deserted rivers, Martin, the liquor-dealer, said:

“Boys, we might have give old Abe Lincoln and that abolitionist See-ward a couple of shots, and got out of town easy.”

“I was thinking of that,” Mike O’Laughlin added. “If Johnny Booth had seen him, I b’leeve he would have clipped him. Booth’s bitter as death.”

“I never could have fired on that face,” Lloyd Quantrell spoke.

“Harkee!” Martin interposed; “I want you all to j’ine me, boys, and we’ll cut out this steamboat that runs from Balt’mer to P’int Lookout. I’m down yer now to spot her. We’ll hide a crew aboard of her, and drive her own crew overboard and take her as a present to Jefferson Davis.”

The other two watched Quantrell, to form their opinions from his.

“Martin,” said Lloyd, “I’ll do no such Indian ambushing. If our cause is right, it wants to be supported by soldiers, and not by robbers and assassins. I shall enlist in the Virginia line.”

They had loitered away the whole Saturday morning in Washington, and the long, steep hills of clay, still in the pools and ruts of winter, delayed the carriage, so that it was near supper-time when they reached Surratt’s tavern, ten miles from the capital.

It was a respectable, white wooden house, with green shutters and two chimneys, and a paling was around its pretty flower-yard and vine-clad porch on the broad-eaved side, while a shed along the northern gable shaded a bar-room and post-office; and here were assembled some negro overseers, woods farmers, and young men, with their horses tied around the fences and in a grassy space.

They saw within Surratt, the tavern-keeper, and the lad of the same name who had been at St. Charles College with Hugh Fenwick, distinguished by his long nose, lean chin, and sunken eyes. The elder Surratt was ill, and not long to live; the son grave and uninteresting; and therefore Quantrell was rejoiced to find the ladies of the family in the dwelling part — Mrs. Surratt, a wife of round form and soft complexion, and of hospitable ways, and her young daughter, pretty and chirrupy.

Lloyd had the reputation of wealth in this region; and the young-looking mother and pleasing daughter paid him attention — the more, that he was about to volunteer in the armies of secession.

He thought of his child-wife passing her honeymoon in those walled mountains, of the brief bliss of their union and violent sundering, and he was in no mood to indulge in political acerbities.

“Dear Mrs. Surratt,” he said, when his ears had been too long harassed by epithets of “Yankee,” “despot,” “nigger-worshiper,” “black republican,” “vile abolitionist,” and so on, “don’t let the women, also, go to the war! Some day we shall cease fighting, I hope, and home will be so grateful without politics. Then the ladies can make peace speedy and easy with their soft ministrations, instead of blowing the coals of war to flame again.”

“Never will I live under Abe Lincoln, that vile and nasty abolition President!” said the hostess, with all her dainty temper.

They kissed the young man good-night, with mingled confidence and coquetry; and their boy, who would be a priest, lighted the way for him.

“It must make you feel proud, sir, to go to war for your country!” young Surratt exclaimed, with timid admiration.

“My country,” repeated Lloyd, “where is it? Go back to school, my friend, and stay there, and don’t loiter here between the lines.”

It was long before Quantrell could fall asleep, thinking of the unnatural compulsions which now were driving himself and millions more away from love, home, and law — the despotisms of pride, perversity, and moral cowardice.

He would not be ruled because he had said he would not, and he had said so because others did the same; yet not one grievance had he received except the expression of the lawful majority against the weedy and gypsy instincts of slavery, to go everywhere and spoil good land, and sow arrogance, brutality, and dissension.

That gentle, fatherly face he had seen in Washington, so different from the hard- and cold-faced President just retired, had spoken to him and his fellow-truants the word “friends.”

“Could he,” thought Quantrell, “rise in to-morrow’s sun with that same countenance and be beheld by all who are breaking up the country, and say ‘friends,’ as he did to us, would they not submit to his rule? Alas, no! for I can not myself hear the cry of my father nor of my wife. A haughty and cowardly fear to turn back and be right, drives me and all of us to a silly insurrection.”

A feeling of indignation possessed him against the original secessionists; but he could not think of the name of a single one. All secessionists had been secondary ones. If there was one original secessionist, it was not an individual, but a system; and John Brown had tried to kill it with his pikes. Slavery was the only original secessionist.

The nearest Lloyd could come to an evil influence over himself was Booth. Here seemed a man of insurrectionary incentive — headlong as the thunderbolt, yet the child of the cloud — gathering young men together, governing them by his dark-eyed will, and lending them his affections to incite their revenges.

Lloyd wished he had never seen John Wilkes Booth.

Quantrell fell asleep, with the spirit of his child-bride in his arms; but he dreamed a horrid dream.

It was the dream identical with Atzerodt’s in the night when Lloyd first knew Katy Bosler, and when love came between them on the tremor of superstition.

There was a man of pale and black complexion, like Booth, riding a horse in a wood, and Quantrell had overtaken him there, and drunk with him; and out of the bottle seemed to come other men every time they drank; and “the last man,” as Atzerodt had expressed it, “was a woman.” That woman was the exact copy of her by whom Quantrell had been kissed, motherly, to his bed!

The man they encountered, as they rode along under that dark and white influence, was the tall President who had called his enemies “friends” but yesterday, and the same deep, feeling tones came from his face in the dream: “Good-evening, friends; we’re ’most home.” “The devil you are!” answered the voice of Booth.

So the vision proceeded, till the black-and-white rider fomented hate against the tall, unsuspecting gentleman, and called for a show of hands; and when the men were at a tie, the woman in this same tavern gave the casting vote, by calling “Charge!” — and over the precipice went she and all of them, trampling the “long man in black clothes” to the earth in his blood.

Quantrell awoke, all throbbing with excitement. He looked out in the night on woods and pallid moon, and heard the whip-poor-will cry down the cross-roads from Surrattsville.

Back to bed he went, and dreamed the same dream, with variations, over and over, till he fell into a better sleep at dawn, and, when he came down to eat, the ladies were starting for the Catholic church at Piscataway.


 

CHAPTER XXXV.

REBELLION.

Lloyd proceeds to his estate, where he is reunited with Ashby and informs his former slaves of their freedom. In the midst of their happiness, he feels “himself as on that day when he wept in Katy’s rapt embrace going to the love-feast.” Still, the next day, he resumes his journey toward Virginia.

Six miles toward the south, then westward through Zekiah Swamp and six miles westward more, brought Lloyd at nightfall to old Port Tobacco Town, in the miasmas of a deep inlet from the Potomac. It contained a venerable Episcopal church, a court-house which once taxed bachelors to support that church, some law-offices, and two taverns; and around it, on the hills, showed mansions of a once opulent time. Lying in a bowl of the hills, neglect, night-poison, and slavery had come like three witches to grin upon it.

Quantrell gazed around on jail and crumbling wall, on public pump and butcher-stall, on gravestones uninclosed, and hollow ruin.

“Think of it,” he reflected; “thirty-four miles from the city of Washington! — only an evening’s drive!”

Port Tobacco was on the direct line, as the crow flies, from the city of Baltimore to the city of Richmond, and as directly south from Washington as the plummet could hang. Did the government at Washington forget this when, the very day Lloyd Quantrell arrived in Port Tobacco, he saw a “Home-Guard” to recruit for slavery established in the town? Atzerodt did not forget it, whose home was in Port Tobacco.

He came out to Lloyd’s carriage from a large brick edifice with massive forking chimneys built against it, and a long porch on squalid piers — a house of a tenement character, degraded from old stability and pretension to be the offices or lodgings of various people, the office-holder, the lawyer, the doctor; and in the once ornamental garden stood an old stable or shop, where Atzerodt worked at his trade of coach-maker.

“Here is where you wanted to bring Nelly, Andrew. It was good for her she didn’t come.”

“Py Jing! she proke dat Dunker’s heart, Lloyd. She’ll preak te next feller’s, too. Who is he? Ain’t it Pooth?”

“No, no. Nelly loves nobody, Atzerodt. She wants money and admiration.”

“Den she’ll cry her eyes out for not taking me. Lloyd, py Jing! I’m going to rake money in now easy as rakin’ oysters. Nigger-catchin’ is done. Te tam apolitionists has stopped kidnappin’ and remantin’ of slaves. Te Logans is all proke up. But right here, at Port Tobacco Inlet, te plockade-runners will pe comin’, and I’ve got a boat an’ crew to run te river to Fergeenia.”

“There’s a rope spun for you, Andrew! You go to Canada, or this war will catch you; for it’s going to be a big one, and you’re a poor, chattering coward that I wish no harm to.”

Quantrell continued along the high banks of the Port Tobacco River, nearly a mile broad, and lighted by the moon, till at its mouth there stretched below the landing and warehouses of Chapel Point, and, on the heights above, the venerable chapel, mansion, and school of St. Thomas’s Manor.

This was the most elegant establishment the Jesuits possessed in Maryland, in those years when they strained the provincial laws to give a private estate ecclesiastical scope and opulence. A church was connected with a refectory and study, in handsome design, of dark-red brick, with Roman arches and heavy chimneys, spire, wide hall, and cool gallery within the hall, and slave quarters; for slavery became more influential than the Jesuits, and it broke their discipline down, till the brethren of him who penetrated through the wilderness to discover the Mississippi yielded by the Potomac to the soft blandishments of master and slave.*

[* See a curious book on a residence in Maryland before the American Revolution, by J. F. D. Smyth, loyalist officer. Dublin, 1784.]

Quantrell crossed Pope’s Creek and the Potomac next morning, and, riding across the Northern Neck, reached old Port Royal on the Rappahannock. The third night he was in Richmond, and falling in with many volunteers he had met at John Brown’s scaffold, they took him to a concert-saloon.

The place was coarse and without female patrons. Men smoked cigars, and waiters peddled liquors up and down the aisles. After minstrelsy, dancing, and other variety entertainment, a loud howl arose from the motley audience for the fresh favorite that is ever requested and devoured, like fresh babes by the sacred crocodile. The present slave of the mob was announced as “the dazzling Protean Empress in her reigning parts and dresses, Miss Nelly Starr.”

The curtain rose, and Nelly Harbaugh was before Lloyd, in evening dress of black silk — superior to the place she stood in, as modesty with beauty well might be. Instead of seeming coarser, she seemed better in every way, more pale, more cold, more superb. She recited in hoarse, crude, deep tones, and with too little good tuition, a ballad Quantrell had heard from John Wilkes Booth.

Quantrell could hardly believe his eyes, as the curtain fell, that this was the mountain weed which had stood by his side in the loft of the Dunker church.

The first piece had been above the taste of the audience, but the second was cried for by whistling and yelling — the yell that often resounded afterward on the field of battle like the Indian war-whoop.

Nelly now appeared in knee-breeches of velvet and a steel corset, with a light sword in her hand. Her long, mountain-exercised limbs and trunk stood nearly of man’s height and sinew, and her hair was gathered up. She was confronted by a “professor” of fencing, and, amid the continued yelling of the audience, she crossed rapiers with him, more in main strength and rude pluck than in skill. Her prowess was greeted by expletives low and familiar, and, at the disarming of the professor by the “Empress,” she bowed her thanks.

As she drooped her eyes, that had been raised in dramatic apostrophe while the curtain was coming down, they fell upon Lloyd Quantrell, and she started.

A waiter soon came to Lloyd with a piece of paper on which was written:

Do wait for me at the door! I want to hear from home.”

She came out among officious and insinuating men, spurning all their attentions, and saw Lloyd’s tall figure, and took his arm.

“Come,” she said, “to my lodgings.”

They crossed the shady square under the Roman-French portico of the old barn-like Capitol, soon to be the insurgent government’s, and saw the great brass statue of Washington and horse ride the moonlight like a wave of electrified cloud. Nelly boarded with a German family from the Valley, and in the little parlor she whispered nervously:

“Luther — is he sick?”

“No.”

“Thank God! But does he accuse me?”

“He has never spoken of you since, I hear.”

“O Lloyd, I struggled and prayed to be made humble to do my duty as a Christian minister’s wife. Just as I thought I had triumphed, the devil appeared to me and made me as treacherous as himself.”

“Not Booth?”

“Who else? I will not give you any lies. He set his traps for my ambition, and I fell to hell with him! Did he never tell you?”

“Not a word. I was sure it was some other man — or none.”

“Ah! Lloyd, he can keep a secret well, especially if it is a dark and tangled one. That he calls honor — to betray and not scandalize his victim — as if a woman would be content to find him false in everything but that!”

“Nelly, you hate him.”

“I fear him more. There is not one man in him, but many. Three devils possess him at different times, or all together — pride, drink, and lust. The first and last of these are steadfast; the second is never far off. When he was drunk, I let him strike me. When he was proud and bullying, I flattered him. When he was false to me, I knew him, then, as I shall always know him, like a treacherous mountain stream, shallow but with dark pools until there is a flood, and then it is a terror.”

The girl stopped, and walked the room rapidly, till Quantrell said:

“Katy has lost her ring; and ‘something dark and white has marked you, Nelly, with the dark’; but, blessed be my dear little dove! I have the promise that she shall yet sing for me.”

“Go back to her!” Nelly turned and addressed Lloyd with a vigor which made him see that the natural actress was there; “go back out of this South, with its fierce, torrid passions and hopeless and audacious task of destruction! There is nothing whatever in this Confederacy that is substantial, except courage and ferocity. Forethought, humility, or lawfulness, is left out of its constitution, and it will fight and fail.”

“Nelly, that won’t do here. I am a soldier of Virginia.”

“And I am going back to the Union lines! Haven’t we followed this disunion programme with our company — I mean Booth’s company — wherever it has made a crowd? We saw South Carolina secede and forbid the payment of Northern debts, and steal the government forts. We saw Alabama go next, and refuse to let her people vote on the ordinance of treason. Mississippi, without any public credit in the world, next resolved to fight the United States, which pays rich and poor. They made the Union orator in Georgia drunk at dinner, so that his eloquence, which had been dangerous in the morning, would be silly enough in the afternoon to pass their silly scheme. The first act of Louisiana, after separating, was to steal the money in the mint, and of Texas to depose her President and hero, General Houston. These are the States which expect to raise cotton in the rear and let the border, like Virginia and Maryland, be overrun with their savages. Don’t I know it? Haven’t I heard them talk it in my presence? This rebel government is nothing but officeholders out of power and slaveholders out of hope, meaning to keep by force the offices the Black Republicans have been elected to; and they will conscript their poor whites to fight for their negroes, until the hollow bubble breaks to a drop of lye, and then everybody, except the fools, will be glad.”

“How could you have seen the gentlemen of the South?”

“Oh, an actor is a good deal more, South than North. That is why John Booth is such a Southern patriot. Think of that man being invited into respectable families, with his forked tongue and luring eyes! He cheated me of my promised place in the bills and the casts!” — here Nelly seemed to show a double fury — “but I had my callers and admirers, too — generals, governors, coxcombs, and simperers — and none without a title. The poor old officers of the army and navy they have compelled to resign, told me their real remorse and apprehension, at being made the waiting beggars of an experiment; for in this confederacy all must join the dance of death — all but the niggers, who are the princes of the country, and white men’s sons go fight for them!”

“How did you get this fluency of words, Nelly?”

“By the great teachers of unhappy women, Lloyd — Sin and Necessity. I have studied hard, in order not to be dependent on that man Booth. He has made thousands of dollars in this unsettled, feverish time, when towns fill up with crowds, and men grumble, and women lose their souls. I earn money as I can; for I am going to work hard to be a successful woman, and to marry the man I love. He will fall, somehow, too; we shall both have much to forgive. But when I can earn my thousands I shall be worthy of his notice again!”

“Nelly, it is a mercy to Luther that you roved away before you married him! He did love you, and he may love you yet, but he sees you now too well to marry you.”

She rocked her head, intimating contrition.

He reached out his hand. She drew back and looked at him, saying:

“You tempting, too?”

“No! Katy is mourning for me — perhaps, also, as one without hope.”

She took his hand, and he kissed her in tender pity and respect.

Often, while she remained in Virginia, Lloyd consoled this woman, generally taking her home from the variety hall, and all may have misconceived his motive; for it is the despair of an erring woman that none can think of her except in her false relation, and they who treat her otherwise suffer in the same uncharity.


 

CHAPTER XXXVI.

CRESCITE ET MULTIPLICAMINI.

KATY had grown close to her brother in her desertion, and he, deserted by Nelly, filled her pure soul with spiritual food. Suspecting that the flight of Lloyd had given her pain, Luther, never dreaming of his sister’s matronhood, kept her tenderly at his side, and every Dunker congregation along the South and North Mountains, from Virginia to the Susquehanna, knew this constant couple.

Long before day they would be up and away, to attend market at remote old towns like York, Carlisle, and Winchester; or auction-sales, to which the country people loved to repair; or Dunker love-feasts and celebrations. In those still, starlight times, in the hush of mountains and of woods, Luther told Katy of creeds, and heard her prattle of everything but that which made her soul cold with fear.

Little did he know that the miracle was repeated of which he often preached, in that tiny form at his side, or that quickened spirits rode with him, and that they, twain, were not alone together.

She, filled with the agony of a double secret, looked upon her brother as her priest and judge; but she dared not make him her confessor. That place Hugh Fenwick filled.

She bloomed out of the scrawny stem of girlhood to life’s accomplishment; and poor Jake Bosler, who had feared her nervous energy and premature passion of love were breaking her down, saw with joy that his child rounded and grew more beautiful, until she almost made him fear.

“Katy leave fader — Bi’m-by,” said Jake, thinking of marriage for his girl.

“Fader,” said Katy, “I must wait for Lloyd. Will te war last long, fader?”

“Te city mans, Katy, fooled your little heart. Tere’s Nelly down in Washington, gone from Luter to pe wicked. My little girl, if you would leave fader like dat, my heart would preak on my olty’s grave.”

As Jake Bosler kissed her, he did not know the pain he had made. Katy prayed and prayed, and lay awake hearing the rain upon the roof, and walked to the window in the night and saw the valley, in ghostly sheets of fog, fall like a deluge around a nearly submerged world; or saw some red planet burn on the mountain’s crest, like shame with leveled eye seeking her out.

She lost her brother, too, when his rising indignation at the secession intrigues, and at repeated raids upon the Dunker valleys, recalled to his warm brain the soldierly prophecy of that singular woman who did not merely tell fortunes, but told, and instigated, character also — Hannah Ritner; and as Luther stood in the Dunker meeting-houses to pray, there would roll through his mind like a drum:

      “Attend the bugle-horn,
 And all thy merit see!”

The influence of Abel Quantrell, that strange, suggestive man, like the prophet Samuel, carrying among the sons of Jesse his anointing horn, was also felt by Luther, and his admonition, “Go, tell your people everywhere that Christ is for liberty,” had never ceased to plague the Dunker preacher’s conscience.

At last he raised his voice, like Balaam of old, and blessed the Union camps, almost against his will.

The old Dunker conservatives heard him, and muttered together that, since that worldly Nelly had cast him off, his talents and mental disorder had made him a lunatic. In vain did he demonstrate that the German Baptists were the oldest anti-slavery men in the world, saying in Antietam church:

“Te German brethren was te first apolitionists. In German’s town, py Philadelphey, when te earliest slaveholding Quakers had only peen six year in tis country, te protest against slavery was writ py Hendricks, Op den Graeff, and Pastorius, saying: ‘We are against te traffic in mens-body. Those who steal men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike? As here is liberty of conscience, which is right and reasonable, here ought to pe likewise liberty of pody, except of evil-doers. This makes an ill report in all those countries of Europe where they hear that “ye Quakers doe here handel men like they there handel ye cattle”; and for that reason some have no mind or inclination to come hither. Have tese negers not as much right to fight for teir freedom as you have to keep tem slaves?’”*

[* Pennypacker’s “Settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania.”]

He preached; drew tears by his emotion and eloquence; solemnly suspended himself from the Dunker sect, and rode to old Sandy Hook, where General Banks was collecting an army, and enlisted as a private soldier in the cavalry.

While he was at Charlestown, encamped on the site of John Brown’s gallows, his colonel sent for him and gave him a letter. He opened it and found a commission as captain in the quartermaster’s department by order of Abraham Lincoln, at the request of Abel Quantrell and Henry Winter Davis.

Luther was ordered to repair to the city of Washington, where Mr. Davis — the only Marylander who had voted in either branch of Congress for compensated emancipation, in both the Federal city and his own State — took him by the hand, and led him to the new Secretary of War, saying:

“Mr. Stanton, you wanted an honest man to supervise your quartermasters and buy horses and forage for your armies. Here he is — a Dunker preacher, enlisted in the lines.”

 

With Luther’s sound head and strong hand gone from the farm, Jake Bosler was like one without his wits. Luther in soldier-clothes! Luther in the government! Luther a great man of the world! All Dunkerdom was full of visions and backsliding!

Old fellows in short coats would come out of meeting, on the green, to talk about it, and forget the subject in its mightiness, till they would disperse, merely saying, “Well, luss mohl sae.”

The blooming Dunker girls, all suffering for Luther’s absence, would huddle together before meeting and ask, “Him? How?” and then all would laugh with little sallies and alarms, “He, he, he!”

Katy would come up to these, and some would stare at her and some would say, “How’s Lloyd? Is Lloyd a rebel?” Some would also whisper and have decided looks, and follow her to the very horizon with their eyes.

Katy was the sincerest of Dunker devotees. Her tears might have washed her feet; her Lord’s supper was eaten every Sabbath; she read the holy book to find her wedding-ring, but nothing could she see there but women’s sins, sufferings, and tears.

“Oh, where is te brook I must wade down to find it?” her frightened soul cried. “I’ll take off my shoes in this cold, icy weather, and go down te bed of efery brook — only tell me where?”

Did Katy ever think the brook she waded was made by her tears?

As Jake Bosler was drawn by Luther into the government business- buying and fattening steers, selecting mules at Baltimore and searching the mountain counties for horses — his monetary instincts aroused again, and Katy was left much alone, for which she was very grateful, although Gilmore’s men and Mosby’s spies, and long lines of white deserters and fugitive slaves, traveled northward on the mountains, and replaced the wild beasts of old.

Hugh Fenwick came sometimes to see Katy from Washington, where he was at present a government clerk, having his quarrels now and then with the priests and conventual people; and, as for his politics, nobody could tell what it was from day to day. He boarded with secessionists and never rebuked them, and he took the government oath. Katy could no more understand him than she could her dog Albion, which was often left alone with her days and nights, and seemed to have a human soul, though a disagreeable one.

When she or any other person was happy, as after a Union victory, or election, or at baptism, or old neighbors’ reconciliations, this dog grew surly and unsympathetic, and would dart out and snap at the cat or bite a chicken; but when musketry sometimes sounded in the distant hills, or forests were afire upon the long spines of the mountains, or a quarrel of any kind arose, Albion was like a gymnastic smile, leaping and pointing, unctuous and sinister, possessed of the devil, some said, and yet at such times affectionately insinuating.

When Katy sat in the great mystery and gloom of one abandoned by love and confronting heaven and death, with health superb if only sympathy and honor were by her side — this dog would softly creep to her feet, climb upon her lap, and lay his spotted muzzle against her cheek, and his hazel-yellow eyes would burn in the darkness like lamps in mines, seeming to say, “You are lost, and I fill the bridegroom’s place.”

He never let her disappear, but followed her everywhere. He hated the doves in the apple-tree, and often pulled Katy’s gown to go and look at them, and see him strive to leap to their nest and put them in distress.

Katy loved these doves, though they reminded her of Lloyd’s killing the dove upon the mountain, and receiving the great old bandit’s rebuke. She sang over Job Snowberger’s coo-roo song to them, and the old doves knew her well, and left her in the fall with many soft adieus, taking their young away. When they were gone, Katy had nothing left her but Albion.

It was nearly Christmas when Hugh Fenwick paid his last visit to Bosler’s farm. He brought sunshine with him generally, for he was only clerical in his affectations, but in realities was healthy, blooming, genial, and sympathetic. The church was his fastidious conceit and passport to a rarer society of virtue and respect, and Katy had tested him well to see if a coarser earth was covered by his piety, but found only abiding reverence for herself, with certain peculiarities of the moral weakling and the ecclesiastical prig.

He prevaricated, and was less sincere about essentials than forms; had a conscience which he could quiet by formulas and penance, believed in mild acts of deceit if they pointed to good conclusions, and approached nothing by the bold right line, but had humor and even gayety, and often just and humane impulses.

Not quite legible to himself, the estimate Katy Bosler made of him was shrewd up to the limits of her inexperience; no other man was so comforting to her, while she desired the better nature in his friendship.

The dog Albion was also extravagant in his friendship, for Fenwick always brought him a present, like a ribbon or decoration of some kind, with which the aristocratic animal performed — taking on a sudden frigidity, being consciously indifferent to the remaining live creation, stalking in the front of the house to bark at all strangers; and the more he was decorated the more he was inhospitable. He licked the priest’s hand, while rejecting the bounteous nature in Katy.

The impulse was too mighty in Katy not to give her misery vent, and she turned upon the lesser spirit of evil:

“You?” she cried to the dog. “Ah! it was you who p’inted me, like te mountain dove, te night Lloyd Quantrell come.”

She beat him with the broom, till, sore of ribs, the creature howled and ran, and Fenwick let him out at the door.

Pale and exhausted with the spasm, and repenting of her treatment, Katy relapsed a helpless woman.

“You are sorry you are Mr. Quantrell’s wife?”

No,” exclaimed Katy, on her remaining breath of spirit. “I won’t say that. If he has gone away and forgot me, I won’t say that. Te priest and te people, te church and te world, may p’int at me like that p’inter-dog, but I am God’s child — and, above tem all, I call on God to come, and come quickly!”

“Katy — sister — come away! You shall have the protection of the Church’s sheltering arms and walls in Washington. There are conventual places under our control open to the wounded — yes, to the betrayed.”

“I am not petrayed,” cried Katy; “I don’t believe it. This war te slaveholders haf got up against te Union of our country has petrayed many a poor man out of home and life, and me out of a wife’s name. I will not hide; I will stay here and die!”

She sank into a chair and felt faint and swooning.

The dog whined softly at the door; the wind blew, and snow came down the chimney upon the failing wood-fire.

Katy raised her head.

The dog outside was fighting desperately with some one, and, as Hugh Fenwick opened the door, this person darted in, kicking Albion off, and exclaiming:

“Katy, unshuldich! Unshicklich! I’m come, on one of Shwester Marcellus’s errands, and te dog won’t let me persewere!”

The breath of the evening revived Katy’s senses. She spied a package in Job Snowberger’s hand, which she seized with a kiss upon that bashful monk’s least obdurate cheek.

A letter in the old German patois said:

“DEAR CHILD: I have kept you in mind, and am just home, at Snow Hill in Pennsylvania. I send you my roan riding-horse to come instantly to me; he is very gentle and sure-footed. If you do not miss the road, it will be only twenty-five miles to ride to Snow Hill. I have often done it in an afternoon on Charlie. Brother Philodulus will come with you, but he is a poor guide and often loses the roads. Come over the mountain, and not around it! I will show you where to wade down the brook and find your wedding-ring.   HANNAH RITNER.”

“God! God!” shouted Katy; “I pelong to God!”

She sat in ecstasy and bade her father, in writing, be of good cheer.

“Where are you going, insane child?” Fenwick demanded.

“To te one woman in te world, I guess, who is not ashamed of me.”

“Goin’ to persewere,” explained Job Snowberger, as he put Katy on one of the horses and climbed on the other himself, and they dashed northward and away.


 

CHAPTER XXXVII.

“TICK-A-TOCK-A!”

IT was very late in the afternoon, and Job Snowberger explained that he had once lost his way in the tangled mountains, and they must ride hard to get anywhere before midnight. Katy felt the incentive of desperation to be clear of her own neighborhood and escape meeting her father, and she gave free rein to the beautiful horse, whose feet on the frozen road went “tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a,” in that carefully taught gait easier than the pacer’s, where the hind feet seem to shuffle and the front feet go on, like the shuttle and the eye of the weaver at the loom. It was the single-footed rack —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

The gentle gelding, compactly built, and his back steady as the seat of a rocking-chair, felt the double instinct of a lady’s necessity and his dear mistress awaiting him; and the gallantry of a “gentleman of the old school” rose to his black mane and free head. Bealsville was passed, and, leaving on her left the dear road over which she and Lloyd had ridden to church, she skirried up the creek’s side to the north —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

Ah! thought Katy, should she ever again have Lloyd’s head upon her breast and see his tears of contrition flow, and his face among the disciples eating the Lord’s feast?

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

“The Lord sent this horse,” Katy thought; “I wish I had my old dog, Fritz, too, so steaty and strong.”

The strawberry roan shied and lost his rack, as something growled at his heels and flashed on before like a spotted and bleached will-o’-the-wisp; and then, as Katy recognized Albion in the place she had hoped for Fritz, the racker’s black-striped back settled easily down again, and his black tail streamed, and his black feet slid over the ground —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

The snow came down finer and faster as the shades of evening deepened, and over the twinkling lights of Wolfsville Katy looked toward the Black Rock on the mountain-top, where she had been the queen at picnic-parties before the coming of Lloyd Quantrell for his doves. How happy and wistful of love then! How unhappy and thornful of love’s fruition and poverty now! How uncertain that she would return and have that simple happiness again if to throw away love’s power and dread knowledge!

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

The evergreen cedars kept their fresh tints in the snow, but nature in general seemed dead. The woods upon South Mountain seemed bare and open, save where the firs and pines stood together in bunches, like the last of old men. Some crows, hastening home to their rock nests, cawed, up among the snow-flakes, like the poor mountain people going home from work to hungry children. A rabbit ran once or twice, leaving his leap-marks in the snow-sheet, and snow birds came abroad as if the Lord’s white table-cloth were spread over the world, and only the very tiny and very cold ones were bid to his feast. Job Snowberger suggested that they could stop all night in Wolfsville; but Katy cried “No!” and dashed across the creek, and on the steep ascent the strawberry roan made bleak music —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-lock-a!”

Katy had barely made her decision, when she felt the lonely distance and wild region it implied, with night and winter upon the untraveled mountains where they were wildest, and twelve miles of their fastness, at least, before her, and the snow growing deep. She saw the parallel ridges pinching the valley and lifting it up, and gnarled and naked apple-trees marked the few homes and meager farms. Job Snowberger at her side, riding a rougher animal, sighed, and tried to keep up with Katy, and his many groans all took the articulated sound of “persewerin’!” The night came down black, with snow-flakes making the blackness visible, and they saw a light in a field near by.

“I must ask te way,” said Job, “or we may freeze to death on te mountain.”

She followed him into a kind of lane, and soon there arose above their eyelids an old tumbling house.

“Why, Job,” whispered Katy, “tis is Nelly Harbaugh’s teserted home; and who can pe in it?”

She rode up to the window and looked within, while Job dismounted and tried the door.

Katy saw a number of men feeding a fire upon the floor. Some she recognized by their blue and gray capes and coats to be deserters from both rebel and Union armies. They were vagrant, thievish men; and some were sleeping, some quarreling, some gambling, while other persons she knew as dealers in contraband things and mountain parasites of the times of war — the man who sold civilian suits of clothes to deserters and bounty-jumpers, the unlicensed whisky-peddler, the army horse-thief, the ruined slave-catcher. Above them all, the firelight showed Nelly Harbaugh’s pastings of actors and actresses from the newspapers, with Laura Keene, in “The American Cousin,” largest of them all.

Suddenly Katy saw Job Snowberger enter this cabin, unaware of its contents, and ask a question.

Before his mouth was well open, he was surrounded and forced to the floor, and his pockets searched. He shook himself loose, and Katy saw him glance furtively around the bare walls as if for some window or weapon.

Unfershamed (barefaced)! Unshicklich (improper)!” Job shouted.

The pointer-dog at Katy’s feet barked loudly in the night. Hearing the sound, the tatterdemalions within turned their heads from Job Snowberger, and rushed out to see what else had come.

Katy had just an instant to observe the action of Job Snowberger before they were upon her: he had leaped on a table disordered by refuse food, whisky, and cards, and he brought from over the door, where he knew its place of concealment, the old gun of the sergeant, deserter of the army and of his child.

The thievish gang had seized Job’s horse, and, guided by the dog’s loud information, had nearly distinguished Katy in the dark, when she, with self-resources never tried before, cried loudly:

“Fire on tem, Union men!”

To Katy’s astonishment a gun responded, and a blaze of light, and the agonizing yelp of a dog.

“We’re surrounded!” cried the cowards, and vanished in the snow-storm down the mountain gulleys.

“I’m a-persewerin’,” sighed Job Snowberger, recovering his horse and carrying the old gun along, “but I’m backshlided, too.”

“How, dear Job?” cried Katy, riding after him.

“I’ve made war — and I reckon my soul’s lost,” observed the man of peace, very inconsistently adding, “Hooray! Seech-reich!

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!” went Charlie’s feet in the snow, and Albion limped after them, still howling fearfully.

“Job,” said the girl, unable to see him in the dark, though he was at her side, “I guess you’re not very wicked, for you’ve fired that load all into our dog.”

“Hooray!” cried Job again, intoxicated with his personal prowess; “can’t you love me some, Katy, for savin’ of you?”

“Yes, Job — only keep your hands to yourself and don’t pe a fool this awful night! Pray for me — I’m a-growin’ blind, and can’t set my horse much longer.”

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!” — in the bare places of the snow-drift and on the broken stones.

Albion, really wounded by the old flint-lock of earlier wars, and receiving no pity, must needs go on or perish now, and it was hard traveling for him.

“Poor dog!” called Katy, out of her own misery, to the snarling, squeaking brute.

He snapped at Charlie’s heels, and received a side-tip from the shuttle hoof which laid him fairly on his back, howling to all the nations for benignant intervention.

“Coom on!” cried Philodulus, chattering with the cold; “te more we mind dat beast, te less he cares for us!”

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock a!”

The wind now blew on the high staircase of the valley, and the highest rills of Catoctin Creek gurgled away behind them. As the snow ceased to fall, black and wind-bellied clouds moved overhead, giving just light enough to note solitary peaks or knobs in the gullet of the valley, and the ear was smitten by the crash of supernumerary trees resisting not the death-chill of old age. The South Mountain seemed also to have died and to be laid in the valley, that had risen to its stature; for it had disappeared in the west, and all around them was a sort of spongy and stony glade, in which the good gelding, wet with sweat, still made a sound with his feet, like the last American slave picking on his old banjo:

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

“We’re ’most come to Foxville and to hickle-te-picklety roads,” Job Snowberger said, through his great coat-collar; “I don’t know which is which, but I’m persewerin’.”

A charcoal pit of ignited logs set upright in a circle and covered with earth appeared now in the roadway, giving a little warmth and light, but no person could be seen, although Job hallooed loud; and he noted that there were forks of the road, both going to the north.

Ich cons hardly du!” groaned Job; “how can one persewere when he comes to two roads, and both p’int right?”

“Go ofer te mountain and not around it, Job, te letter said.”

“Te right-hand road seems straightest,” Philodulus sighed. “Te left-hand road may take us back agin, on down te mountain, to Cavetown and Beaver Creek.”

“O my friend, decide! I am not able to ride much furder; if I git off my horse, I nefer can get up agin.”

“Katy, stay here py te fire! Te war I was in to-night has turned my wits. I’ve shipwracked te faith; and with all my persewerin’ — unshuldich! — I love you.”

His voice trembled, and his bachelor blush was felt in the dark.

“Job,” cried Katy, “if I was aple, I’d git off tis horse and slap you! Holt that gun away from your chin, and don’t pe leanin’ on it; it might haf loaded itself.”

“Katy, stay py te warm fire; I’ll guard you all night with this wicked musket, and gif you my coat to lay in. We don’t know te way.”

“Sir,” Katy cried, between modesty and despair, “I dare not wait one night, one hour! Go on, some way, any way — or I shall fall in te snow and perish!”

“Let te dog decide, then,” Job Snowberger cried, shouting to the dog to go forward.

The dog chose to go to the right.

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a.tock-a!”

They soon heard water trickling, and found themselves following a rill, and the wind began to lull, and the sky parted, letting some moonlight through. The wood-paths divided again near a mountain clearing like a hermit’s farm, which lay as in a triangle of gaunt ridges, and showed a ruin but no habitation, and the dog again went to the right, following the stream, perhaps, to bathe his burns and bruises; and this stream was so near the track that in its overflows it had covered the latter with stones, like a road-mender, or rather road-destroyer, showing, by the widening light, a dreary stretch of uncrushed rock, hard sandstone, and other primal stones which would not roll round in the washing of centuries, but remained hard and unshapen like a savage race. Over these infinite stones the good horse picked his way and stumbled, and his knees trembled.

“We must surely pe comin’ over te mountain now,” Katy thought.

Of this broken stone there seemed miles, and yet the cold brook just beside it had a talk to itself, as if it were gliding comfortably onward among the stunted oaks.

“If Charlie could only wade in there,” Katy thought, “he wouldn’t bruise me so. Oh, I am sore as if I was full of stones, and every step shook tem! Maype tis is te brook I am to find te book and te wedding-ring in.”

There stood a cabin of logs near the road, and Job shouted for people, but only brought out some lean fox-hounds, which chased Albion along the broken stone, and their yelp filled the night. Katy lost the stream awhile; but it returned soon with the power of other affluents, and began to enter the impressive walls of unseen mountains, making themselves felt like dungeon-walls in darkness. There were easier declivities in the road, and again the single-footed racker made a sound like the living spirit of some former water-mill —

“Tick-a tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

“O Shwester Kate!” Job Snowberger exclaimed, “dis love tey talk apout, is te worst of all te Christian’s life. Bruder Martin Luter was so persecuted py it that he tried to drown it in te Rhenish wine, and te drunker he got te more he was peteviled, till he had to marry a nun. Maype, if you was to marry me, I could write music like Conrad Beissel and Friar Luter.”

Job raised his voice and sang, in high, piping notes, the Christmas-eve hymn of Luther:

“Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
  Who is it in yon manger lies?
  Who is this child so young and fair?
  The blessed Christ-child lieth there.

“O Lord, who hast created all,
  How hast thou made thee weak and small,
  That thou must choose thy infant bed
  Where ass and ox but lately fed?

“O dearest Jesus — Holy Child!
  Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
  Within my heart, that it may be
  A quiet chamber kept for thee.”*

[* Catherine Winkworth’s translation.]

Thus the legend of Asia replaced with its songs the owls and katydids of the American forest. Katy listened with awe and consolation.

“Happy could I pe to lie down in a manger, too, Job, and rest my bones; but here is neither ped nor stable; and if it is midnight, we are in Christmas-eve!”

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

They could see the inclosing mountains now raise their heads like the Wartburg Castle, where Luther composed and burned, between the dual poles of the human and the divine passion. Pulpits, lofty and cold as Calvin’s, on the steep streets of Geneva, those rock-shapes seemed; or, like the papal tiara, they towered above the little stream, or bishops’ caps in the narrow alleys of Rome. So runs the rill of human nature through the ramparts of creeds; and travelers, down the brook, want an inn more than heaven; and if the inn is full, a bed in the stable.

Shelter, shelter! how much is it of joy; and what word of pain is like that one of “shelterless”! Katy wondered if the infinite millions spent in temples and churches to provide homes for people in heaven, might not afford this world a bare shelter, and straw on every road, like the birth-bed of Mary’s untimely-born son in the tavern-stall.

“Tick a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

With snowy luster, rocks and bare woods shone, and mountain-sides upheld the hemlocks, and in the damper places grew long, open groves of beech-trees, as on the bowlder-strewed slopes of the German mountains of Harz. Cedars clung to stones, and spread their roots around them like a hand from the grave, pulling the tombstone in. The little pines leaned against the precipices, starving rather than leap down; the little oaks roved up the desolate ravines, and moonlight shone on a wood-chopper’s chips and gleaming axe; the only signs of animal existence. Nothing moved — no rabbit, nor squirrel, nor bird; and the only sound they heard was of the foaming brook, now grown to a fierce torrent, and defying the frost to fasten it more with silver chains. Piled in that torrent, like maledictions from the overtopping cliffs, were mighty rocks flung down and staying the water in cascades — which roared, or boomed, or tingled, according to the resistance; and beneath them were hollow basins in the stones or pools, suspiciously silent after so much conflict. Signs of coal were to be seen in the ledges where the road had delved its way; and down the slopes the horse, with yielding knees, bore Katy, sometimes giving her a shock that seemed to bring an echo, and to make her cry aloud, till poor Job Snowberger, himself nearly dead with chafing and jolting, would cry, pipingly, “O Katy, persewere!”

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

The brook was so long, so wild, the road so steep and unknown, that Katy was sure it was the brook she was to wade down to find her wedding-ring, and at every circle of the moonlight on the path she was thrilled with the thought that the magic hoop of gold had been reached.

The dog had become confidential, and trotted at her side, and sometimes the shaggy woods and precipices made a deep, impenetrable shade, beyond which a seeming path would open on the torrent. At one such place the road seemed to end, and a fallen tree appeared to have been felled to notify the travelers. Job called to the dog to go ahead. The animal was soon heard yelping in the bottoms to their left, and there Job Snowberger, in opaque darkness, forced his faltering horse, and Katy followed. The limbs of trees struck them, and thick brush galled their limbs, but still the pointer-dog barked seductively, as if to say, “Hasten and find security!”

They followed along, and there soon appeared light, as from above, upon a smooth place like a trodden way, and in the light the dog was seen at a stand, tail out and muzzle toward them, and foreleg raised.

Job Snowberger pushed along, and the dog bounded before him, and was next seen on a stone amid the deep roar of unseen water — a stone with lichens spotting it, and clay upon its smooth, large face. Albion barked again, and again he came to a “point,” as Katy had seen him do so often when congenial mischief was afoot.

“Stop, Job! Te dog never p’ints fair.”

Job pulled up suddenly — and he was on the edge of a chasm that would have swallowed him up, at another impulse forward of his horse.

Below him the creek had made its way beneath the bank, leaving the old bed dry and rock-strewed, and its abyss was ragged with sharp stones whetted by the freshets and cataracts which had laid them bare.

“O treacherous hound!” cried Job; “and, Katy, he’s persewerin’ yet.”

As the dog stood on the stone beyond the chasm, revealed in the streaming light through the tree-tops, and still insidiously tempting the travelers on, something seemed hurled at it out of a bow or catapult, and this thing skipped right up the opposite bank like a flying mass of rock with eyes and muscles in it.

Both horses trembled, and seemed to swoon down upon their bellies, and to blow terror through their nostrils.

The opposite steeps and thickets cracked and shook for a few instants, as if with convulsive life.

Then, on a high rock, above the torrent a hundred feet, a beast emerged like a great cat, with ears turned outward and lashing tail, and stripes upon its sides. It bore a parcel in its teeth, and, standing upon that, ripped the object with a jerk of its black-shadowed and shining neck.

The horses turned and rushed back into the woods, and regained the road over the trunk of the fallen tree, and bounded away regardless of descent or obstacle till, under Katy, the good racker found his cultivated gait again of —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

“Gracious! what is it, Job?”

“O Shwester Kate! I ain’t seen one on te South Mountain for years. It was a catamount, a painter, and he’s killed and eat te dog! I reckon he had prowled te bare mountain for food till he was tesperate.”

“He’s killed te dog that p’inted me,” spoke Katy, shuddering; “but it was Lloyd’s dog, and I pity him.”

Yes, Albion might have become a favorite on the sea-coast, and, as an exotic, have lived several years of luxury; but he fell a victim of the American interior, whence a few animals of the provincial habit and spring still issue forth.

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

The single-footed racker soon entered a region with signs of life and improvement; some remains of mills and mill-races were seen, and finally open fields and barns, and at last a town stood huddled in the sheen of moon and frost. Their horses stopped at an old stone tavern on a corner.

“Is dis town Vaynesporo?” piped Job Snowberger, to a man who was shutting up the tavern windows.

“Waynesboro? No; this is Mechanicstown.”

“Oh, unshicklich! Unshuldich! — Katy, we’ve come around te mountain, and te kloster is on te furder side.”

“I reckon,” said the landlord, “you’ve come down Big Hunting Creek. It’s a wonder you tidn’t lose your lives. If you’d took the same road the other way, you’d come out at Smithsburg, or Cavetown, and been in the Cumberland Valley; but now you’ve got the mountains to cross again, and you’re fourteen miles, the shortest way, to Waynesboro.”

“I couldn’t help it. Te dog did it. I was a-persewerin’, Katy,” Job piped in tears.

A feeling of despair, followed by a resolution of the highest energy, seized upon Katy Bosler. Sending Job peremptorily to bed, Katy took the landlord aside and minutely inquired the way to the Dunker Nunnery of Snow Hill.

“The easiest way is to go to Emmittsburg, eight mile from here, and take the pike. But there you’re no nearer Waynesboro than from here. The shortest way is to go up Owen’s Creek to Harbaugh’s Valley, and turn over the South Mountain and over the short mountain beyond it, and from that view you can see Waynesboro standing out in the plain. Snow Hill is three miles north of that.”

“I want my horse fed pefore daylight,” whispered Katy — “te strawperry roan, that racks. Please let that man sleep, and wake me without noise. I’ll pay you now.”

After a night of strange, deep, yet haunted sleep, Katy was awakened and started on her journey. Another creek flowing out of the mountain’s mane, gave access to pierce the mountain’s head, and by abyss and overhanging height, rock and cascade, narrow pass and cave, the fainting child went on, crossed the South Mountain, and looked back on nature wildly broken and uptilted, and she scaled the next mountain’s notch among frozen cascades which she felt to be tributaries of the Antietam.

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

From the fissure she descended there suddenly stretched under and away, like a golden scarf, the zone of a prodigious valley in snow and field, stack and large barn, pike and town, miles on miles; soft to the hollow palm of heaven as the young head of David, in its silken curls and rosy blushes to the transparent hand of the prophet, full of shining oil.

The sun was sinking in the west, and as it basked upon the faint gray line of the North Mountain, thirty miles away, it seemed to Katy, this eve of Christmas-day, to be the star of Bethlehem the wise men had followed, and the abundant plain to be the gifts they had brought the new-born baby in the stall — gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

She was delirious now, and only knew the town in the foreground of the great valley to be Waynesboro, and down the mountain tripped her gallant roan —

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a!”

Waynesboro has been passed; she knows the old Dunker meeting-house on the Little Antietam, with its ten doors and windows in the low story of stone; she is in the noble woods above the lower road in the valley, and sees the old white Dunker mill; and she has fallen from her horse to the earth at the monastery door and read the notice posted there:

“By order of the trustees of the Snow Hill Society, the undersigned do hereby notify the loafer or vagrant not to call for lodging or otherwise annoy the people, as the law will be used.”*

[* The author copied this from the door of Snow Hill Dunker Nurnery.]

The fainting soul applied the warning to herself: she passed through the long, narrow house by an open hall, passed to the rear and saw no one, and entered the little dairy among the shining pans and tins.

In the water seemed a circle of silver or gold mystically rippled.

“Te ring!” sighed Katy, and sank upon the cold floor.


When she could see, or recollect, she was in bed and very weak, yet somehow happy. She heard singing of a queer, shrill kind, and looked upon something that shone upon her finger. What could it be that had slid, as if from heaven, upon her slender hand?

“Dear,” spoke a voice heavy with music and tenderness, like the bass of Lloyd Quantrell singing, “you have found your wedding-ring.”

Hannah Ritner was standing by the bed, as well as Abel Quantrell, both looking at her with interest gracious and mutual.

Katy looked again at the dear-bought ring, and saw that Hannah had nothing like it upon her hand.

“Won’t you give her one?” Katy whispered to Abel Quantrell. “It is so comforting! It makes me feel that Lloyd is mine.”

“Hannah,” said Abel Quantrell, “we always were in love: cube it! Love, multiplied by offspring, and once again by opportunity, make the three times the base. Take the child’s ring, and I will put it on your hand and call you ‘wife.’”

“No, master. The sacrifice shall be complete: your younger son by this marriage would suffer in his careful sense of honor. Our son has become nature’s own, and does not need that we should wear a ring.”

“Sho! this child is not married. — Are you, Kate?”

Katy flushed even in her weakness, but, remembering the promise of secrecy made to her lover, she took the ring from her hand and gave it to Hannah Ritner.

“I come a good ways to git it, teacher,” she said, “but maype it pelongs to you. Oh, I feel so happy. What is it?”

“This,” said Hannah Ritner, holding up a little sleeping babe which she drew from Katy’s bed. “Here is Saint Christmas, born in the dairy of them who never marry. — Take the child, master, and look at it awhile — your second grandchild — while I ride for the doctor!”

As the old man looked at himself in the third generation, and Katy wondered what it all could mean, they heard the single-footed racker go out the lane:

“Tick-a-tock-a, tick-a-tock-a, tick a-tock-a!”


 

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PURITAN, JESUIT, AND GERMAN.

SNOW HILL was a remnant; once a wilderness cloister, or society, which had possessed bright-eyed converts and intellectual piety; but with beauty and youth intellect had also died here, and the old printing-apparatus and printed books, the natural music and mechanical craft, traces of which still continued, only emphasized the dullness and strained devotions of a fragment, which had property enough to make internal contentions, and where Job Snowberger had till now been the beau and baby.

Katy’s baby was the first convert Snow Hill had made in many a year, and Job’s “nose was out of joint,” as the saying goes.

He came half-way in the door to see the baby, got a glimpse of its palpitating head, and went off into the mill to cry and to blush. Had Job been the sole witness of baby’s advent into this world, he must needs have left Katy at the road-side and run away. The old belles of the nunnery looked into the mill and made faces at him, saying, “Dummkup,” or dunce, and executing little waltzes and jigs quite novel to the holy life.

Some of these silly virgins peeped through the crack of Katy’s door, to see the young mother and babe on Christmas-day, and one walked in, looked at the bed a moment, and said “Kint!” meaning “brat,” and turned up her nose and seemed to blow disgust through her nostrils with her eyes; but all that afternoon this woman scoured the tins in the dairy till they were bright enough to look into, and show her reflected, unexpressive face, the wick of whose experience had never been trimmed and lighted, so that, in the darkness from it, the bridegroom had gone past.

And that night, when all were gone to bed, this queer, roundfaced, sour-looking woman of forty or fifty years, crawled up the stairs and into Katy’s room, and reached beneath the quilts to where the baby lay, and, taking it tenderly forth, put it against her breast, and saying, “Bubbelly, bubbelly, labe goot,” or “baby, by-by,” burst into tears.

Katy looked up in wonder, and reached for her child. The woman turned from her in a kind of quarrelsome pout, sniffed again, and stole away.

“Hannah,” said Katy, after she had rested some days and grown strong, “why is love so natural and tangerous?”

“My child, there came into this world a stranger to its nature called Pride, and began to whisper to people till they elected two evil spirits to watch them, called Scandal and Appearances. Since then, no baby has been like the young of other animal life around it, where song and gamboling, innocent delight and no evil-thinking, make nature unceasing Christmas, and every opening bud, or egg, or infant eyelid, a redeeming spirit. Man only, looks beyond life both ways, before and hereafter, for the portion all things, besides, find in living. ‘How came you into the world? Where will you go after the world?’ These are the questions which man asks alone. The rest of nature sings and loves, and holds to the life that is.

“Life aspires to life. Death itself, left alone, rejoices in the seed that is dropped into its decay, that it may sprout and bloom. To Nature, the triumphs of intellect and society are nothing, my child. What are all the vanished empires, the social systems, theology, science, literature, and conquest, to the subtle mechanism of your little babe, which eats and sleeps and dreams, which blesses you and drives down the dark stream of time the mirror and spirit of ourselves? The toil of Shakespeare’s head is to Nature lost, but a babe, even of Hagar, the desert animals will protect. Seed is the only end of Nature, and the earth is still its garden.”

“O how can I tell people that this is my baby and I haf no wedding-ring?”

Hannah Ritner saw Katy’s dark eyes shine upon her pale, white face.

“I have had a lover and a son,” said the seer.

“Was Lloyd’s father your lover?”

“Yes.”

As the dark woman faintly blushed, Katy leaned over and kissed her and said:

“Then, Hannah, you’re my mother.”

“I can be your step-mother, my dear child, and I have tried to be. From the day Lloyd brought you to my cabin I have taken a mother’s care of you both. But my son is older than Lloyd; Lloyd’s mother wore the wedding-ring, and this babe has society’s protection, while mine—”

“Why,” cried Katy, “Senator Pittson must pe your son?”

“My son,” spoke Hannah Ritner, proudly, “is in the councils of his country; Nature has never marked him with his Egyptian mother’s shame!”

“Mootter Hannah, are you happy?”

“My child, who is? I have my cares. My master was not as true as I have been — he married.”

Katy kissed her friend upon her great, rich, upturned eyes.

“Forgive him for that!” the young mother said. “That is why Lloyd lived to come to me.”

“My simple dove, I saw in your lover’s face the lineaments of his father, and told your fate as it has come — we are both deserted!”

“Oh,” cried Katy, “it is te war, not Lloyd!”

“Is the cause Lloyd fights for, against his strong father’s will, holy enough to justify the son’s selfish anticipation of pleasure in your young life and soul? He could not wait, but let you wait and suffer. His father yielded, too, when the temptations of material life came to him — a lady of beauty, gentleness, and wealth, and family influence in politics. I do not murmur that he forgot me, for I had exacted no terms in the almost maternal passion I felt for his distress; but his son has a daughter, who looks into my eyes and rejoices in her noble paternity!

“Ah!” cried Hannah Ritner, “there is a taint of self and gainseeking in these Yankees. Look at the brother of Abel Quantrell, following him to Maryland, and setting up a slave-pen to earn money! Does Abel wonder that his son, Lloyd, grows up without domestic reverence, is predatory in love and violence, and strikes his country in the face?”

Carried away by impulses powerful as those may have been which gave her love’s reckless impulsion, Hannah arose, seeing not Katy nor anything except the lightning-play in her stormy soul.

“I believe slavery will fall in these mountains; that its grave is by the Potomac, and that the echoes of its death will die along the South Mountain side. Who comes, so joyfully, with the whistle of victory, and careless as the happy schoolboy’s mind on Friday afternoon? Who comes at holiday’s brink and bears the sheaves of harvest and does not see the hunter’s trap? Oh, linger, linger, gentle friend, for the tyrant hides in wait, his expiring mortality concentered in one blow! It has fallen: I see him reel across the open grave, and the Emancipator is caught up by the Pioneer — Death! Death! but Victory!”

As Hannah Ritner sank down by Katy’s bed, a gun went off directly beneath the window of the room, and was followed by a piping cry of —

“Persewerin’! Wictory and te heilich life!”

It was soon reported that Job Snowberger had been fooling with the old gun he found in Harbaugh’s cabin, and had shot himself, painfully, but probably not fatally.

All sorts of tales were told about Job’s accident. Some said that he had become vainglorious since he had fired on the renegades at Harbaugh’s, and brought Katy safely across the mountains, and that he had taken to drilling and marching, and had finally shot himself to experience the feelings of the wounded.

Others said he had lost his wits trying to understand the mystery of Katy’s baby, and had some way conceived himself to be the undiscovered guilty party.

Others told a queer story about Job being desperately in love with Katy, and tortured between his affections and his vow of monkish celibacy, and that he had resolved to persevere in the holy life if he had to commit suicide.

Whatever the mystery of his act, Job was a changed man when Katy came down from her room after some days, and offered to attend his bed and return his kindness to her.

He was now completely indifferent to her charms and coquetries, and read the great book called “Der blutige Schau-Platz,” or “The Baptist Martyr’s Looking-Glass,” which his father had set up in type at Ephrata, and he composed bits of music under the pages of Conrad Beissel’s hymns in the “Turtle-Doves” collection; and toward spring got about, and remained silent, pious, and a little sour till the end of his life.

Some of the bad boys used to call names at Job over the fence, such as “maidle,” and “gowl,” and “asle”; but he was deaf to their tantalizations, and still the warrior spirit revived sometimes in him, as in Narses and other generals of the past; and the next fall, at the love-feast of Snow Hill, when the Seventh-day Baptists were imposed upon by the thousands of disorderly spectators, Job, to use the neighborhood saying, “whipped his weight in wild cats,” to the battle-cries of “persewerin’,” and “te heilich life.”

Relieved of Job’s attention, Katy meantime was to apply her mind to The Book, or, as Hannah Ritner said:

“My darling, the brook you are to wade down to find your wedding-ring is your tears of penance and passion; the book you are to use for direction may be the Holy Scriptures, or it may be education. Seek which of these — and both may be needed to satisfy you — will fill up the uncertain and contending years till the prodigal lover finds his way back to his father’s door.”

For months Katy applied herself to The Book. She read much of the fifty books issued from the Ephrata press, wept over the Scriptures, and joined in the devotions of the household. She was of natural piety; but her mind leaped along and over the barriers of this perishing monastery and its dull existence. Hannah’s influence kept her a welcome guest, and her beauty the sour old women deferred to. Her name was changed to “Sister Azuba,” or “The Deserted.”

Sometimes Hannah Ritner took her away awhile, among the hospitals and on the steamers of the Sanitary Commission, and she saw the bleeding edges of the mighty war that at one baptism immersed the wide continent; but her child called her back, and she learned to love the cove among the Dunker hills, and to hunger for the books of human knowledge.

“Lloyd must not find me ignorant,” she said. “And first I must learn the English language!”

So Katy set to work to destroy the old German sounds upon her tongue that had almost grown physiologically into the brain.

The Pennsylvania Dutch speech had no written language nor grammar nor fixed forms of orthography, and was a colloquial language with hardly any literature;* but it was spoken by nearly a million of the American people, less from preference than from one unvaried race intercouse of above a hundred years.

[* Rev. A. R. Horne, Kutztown, Penmylvania. “German Manual.”]

The long e where the short one should be used, the use of oo for u and of aw for the short o, the mixing of t and d and of p and b, of j for ch and of g for tsh, the confusing of the two sounds of s and of th, and saying f for v and w for v, and the leaving out the h sound after w, were the true labors of the German Augean stable, which required a river of English to purify it; for, under a decaying language, ignorance hides like dust and mice on unused books. Katy was a little of a poet, and she set these defects in verse:

Eggs are not aiks, tunes are not toons,
 Dogs are not tawks, spoons are not sboons;
 A gill you drink, a chill you sweat,
 At jests you laugh, in chests you get;
 A gem you wear on a chemise,
 But play no ‘zell’ on the polize;
 The vine you grow, the wine you bottle,
 The which you whistle, the witch you throttle;
 It iz a job to chop Jane’s chain,
 Not, iss a chop do job Chane’s jane.”

 

Hannah Ritner arrived at Snow Hill one day in a hired buggy.

“Katy,” said she, “the insurgents have beaten McClellan and Pope, and crossed the Potomac! They are in Frederick City to-night. I was robbed of my single-footed racker on my way to apprise your father, and I came too late — his herd was driven off, and the old farm is a desolation! Catoctin Valley is held by the enemy, and they are investing Harper’s Ferry.”

“Hurrah!” piped Job Snowberger, coming in with the old Sergeant’s gun; “I’ve persewered as fur as te heilich life, and now I’m backshlided and goin’ to te heilich war!”


 

CHAPTER XXXIX.

LLOYD’S HUNTING-PARK.

IT was natural enough that the guide of the insurgent army into Maryland and Pennsylvania should have been one of the Logans — the mountain slave-catchers. They knew all the by-roads, and, if the invasion had succeeded, the blood-hound would have been the next guide, chasing up fugitive slaves.

The issues to be settled under the South Mountain, and by the Antietam mill-stream, were the same determined by Charles Martel, on the plains of Europe — whether women should have souls, and Christians liberty!

The defeat of the Army of the Potomac there, might have made slavery the dictator of all future American law and policy; it would next have compelled Canada and Mexico to remand fugitive slaves, and the slave-trade would have been opened with Africa and Polynesia, and Europe forced to consent or fight; for men who would attack the United States in the proportion of one to three, would not hesitate to attack any state in Europe; and, in fact, the education of slavery had made the fiercest white race on the globe since Mohammed and his caliphs — a democracy practicing slave-driving had all the energy of a popular society with all the bigotry of Orientalism. The fatalist Presbyterian, to whom was consigned the capture of Harper’s Ferry, as the principal result of the invasion of Maryland, would have been no unwelcome general to Abderrahman or Kara Mustapha.

There, under the fatuity of belief that the old mountain hole was important, the government kept a garrison of twelve thousand men, while the insurgents also felt annoyed to leave this hollow post in their rear; and, turning to take it, they lost the great battle of Antietam, and also learned that their remaining sympathizers in Maryland did not enlist for open war.

Lloyd Quantrell, like many a one returned to his native State, kissed the ground, and heard the bands play “Maryland,” and read the proclamation of the heir-at-law of Washington, that “freedom of the press has been supressed”; and next, Lloyd saw the Union newspaper office at Frederick destroyed. The more honest proclamation was that of the Maryland rebel brigadier: “Come, all who wish to strike for their liberties, and each man provide himself with a pair of shoes, a good blanket, and a tin cup.”

The mountain counties had too few slaves to be interested in an otherwise causeless rebellion. The false prophet lost nearly as many by desertion as he took at Harper’s Ferry.

Quantrell served as the staff-officer of a great slaveholder from Georgia, who had seen his political party break up and the Republican party prevail, rather than let his rival receive the Democratic party’s leadership. This able man, who had handled the finances of his whole country, now found himself defending Crampton’s Gap, one of two depressions in the long South Mountain wall. Quantrell was sent along the mountain-crest to solicit re-enforcements from the greater insurgent wing which held the pass of the old National road, some miles northward.

Suddenly he heard the strains of a band of music swell up from the plain behind him, to the air of a Maryland poet of other days:

“Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
  Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
  Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land
  Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
  And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust.’
  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Lloyd’s eyes filled with tears as he heard this tender music — plaintive, hopeful, and trustful; like a Te Deum, threatening none — execrating none.

“Why can not we play that piece?” said he. “I know it is never played in our camps; but why not? Have we lost our State, our flag, our music, too? What have we got in return?”

As he dried his eyes, and looked at his shoes, half unsoled, and his garments and skin dirty, and himself come back, like a gypsy tramp, to the mountains of his childhood, he heard the fifes and drums in Crampton’s Gap playing the old, monotonous, drunken-student tune, like a Roundhead drawl sung through the nose to insidious suggestions, to the words —

“Better the fire upon thee roll,
 Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
 Than crucifixion of the soul,
      Maryland! my Maryland!”

“Nice present for Maryland from her friends,” Lloyd reflected — “the torch, the dirk-knife, the assassin’s shot, and a bowl, either of poison or turpentine-whisky!”

He drank of the good rye he had purloined at one of the distilleries in Catoctin Valley, the capture of which had appeared yesterday to be the political motive of the whole war.

Suddenly he thought of the Sunday evening when he had left Katy, near Crampton’s Gap, and the mysterious music of fife and drum had followed her retreating wheels.

“O prophecy of this desolation!” Quantrell cried; “was it I who brought this war upon my country? Did my coming to these mountains bring ruin to a single heart or shame to any hearth? God help me! What will to-morrow bring them, when every fife screams hate, and every drum beats ‘kill’?”

He had stumbled along the mountain-table, when he found himself at the edge of a rock parapet, and identified the spot as that where he had met Isaac Smith and sons under their assumed names, the day he shot the dove.

Looking out upon the rival valleys, Lloyd recognized his hunting-park, somewhat as he had desired it that day, when he said: “I would clean out the whole region like a Norman king; all the wild beasts should return again — none but native American beasts, you bet!”

Every beast was here; every hamlet had become its lair; and from the North Mountain, more than twenty miles away, to Hagerstown and the Pennsylvania vales, stretched the uncoiled insurrection, with one fold only around Harper’s Ferry, and the flat head, like the sluggish copperhead snake’s, hissing at Baltimore, where lay the government fleet to raze that city if it sought to rise and destroy itself.

The mild, wistful eyes of Abraham Lincoln, whose life would pay the price of his devotion if his army failed, looked out from Washington city — his enemy far in his rear, and hardly a day’s march from his person — and he knelt in the agony of his responsibility to the God he had sometimes doubted, and promised, if the battle were favorable, to proclaim slavery the nation’s outlaw.

As if Heaven had taken the President at his word, the army charged the South Mountain with a spirit it had never shown. Behind Quantrell, the old statesman’s command was torn to pieces, and among the killed were some of his own family; and, in the Gap ahead, the soldiery of the West fought far into the night, and hurled their enemy down the mountain, though he had massed thirty thousand men to keep this rampart. Three thousand fellow-men lay on the mountain-side, crying for water and death.

Quantrell was caught up in the tide of flying men and carried on to Sharpsburg — that same little town where he had volunteered to carry the letter to Isaac Smith nearly three years before.

Here, in the dawn, stretched thousands of men upon the bare ground; hundreds more were contending for water at the stone-arched spring.

“The blessings of our Confederacy have been, up to this time,” Lloyd thought, “hardly to leave Maryland water to drink.”

He went to the commanding general’s and asked for a place in the coming battle, and they sent him to the Dunker church near by, where he had plighted troth with Katy; and that night, as Fate would have it, he slept beneath the September stars, in the Dunker grave-yard, where, at the grave of Katy’s mother, he had put his own mother’s ring upon Katy’s hand, and heard a mystic music in the fields.

Now, from the small mountainous ridges, from the fields ribbed with limestone, and the drooping woods of hickory and oak, came the pipes and bands of vast and organized war — not like the handful of John Brown’s followers caught in the mountain’s jaws, but landscapes of men embroidered between the great quilting-frames of the North and the South Mountains; and the Antietam brook, like a ball of blue yarn, lying on the floor below.

At dawn, next day, the bright needles began their task, and the red and white patches spangled the rich groundwork; like scissors cutting, the shell and shrapnel clipped the air; while smoke of burning rags and flesh went up to God in human sacrifice. It was the domestic quilting-party over domestic slavery.

During that night, thinking of where he might lie the night to follow, Lloyd Quantrell imagined he saw on the South Mountain summit the gaunt form of John Brown demonstrating with a pike upon the great blackboard of the battle-field, and saying, “This, gentlemen, is the inevitable line of war!”

 

The battle of Antietam may be likened to two leopards lying in a brook, and fighting all day with their heads and teeth, and not till near night remembering the terrible claws upon their hinder feet, when these, also, do ferocious work.

At light of Wednesday morning, the flexile animals began the roar of war, contending for the Dunker church through corn-fields and lanes; and that little temple of the peaceful Dippers, standing on a white turnpike in the edge of beautiful woods, was the only Christian sign to twenty-five thousand dead or bleeding men, who lay that night beneath the breeze that carried the symphony of their wails to the old mill-wheels in the creek, which turned as innocently to blood as to water. These mills had ground out flour for Washington’s army, and for the French wars a hundred years before.

Artillery had been busy as the talk of crows in the standing corn, for a full day’s farm-hands’ work; the volleys of musketry seemed to rend the intervening mountains, and account for their present partitioning; the old sycamores above the sluggish windings of the creek calmly slept in the tornado of iron, like the Dunkers in their graves.

In grassy cross-lanes, where the sighs of pastoral love had passed in the innocent sight of nibbling sheep, there lay at morn the specters of entangled bodies, swelling, to quick decay, like the hewed trees upon the mountains and the corded wood.

By night, the lamps of good Samaritan and robber moved among the sufferers, hearing the cry of “water,” and answering it with rapine; or the cry for “death,” and answering it with water and with wine.

The public enemy, with the Potomac at his back — looped up to his flanks and cinctured by his pontoons — held the horizon line above the creek, and watched the three stone bridges of the Antietam. The nearest bridge to Sharpsburg was not attacked till afternoon, though ordered to be carried at dawn; and when that town was almost taken, the returning victors from Harper’s Ferry appeared and saved it.

Thus one hundred and fifty thousand men had tried a whole day to destroy each other, upon the issue of two nations or one — no other moral point was then at issue.

But the President at Washington had recorded his vow. The day but two after the battle he read to his cabinet the proclamation of emancipation, and the Monday after the battle — washing-day in the State — it was published to mankind.

Before it serfdom went down everywhere. The Russian and Brazilian followed the spirit of old King Frederick, and the American followed the example of Frederick’s sword-wearer, Captain John Brown.

These were the words of mercy, born out of the autumn harvest of the Dunker’s vale:

On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves by the people in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free.”

The stream of Dutch immigration moving down the Cumberland valley from the Delaware, had prepared the battle-field of emancipation, and verified the proclamation of Mennonites and Dunkers a century and three quarters before: “We shall doe to all men licke as we will be done ourselves; making no difference in what generation, descent, or colour they are.”*

[* Mennonite protest against slavery to the Pennsylvania Quaker slaveholders, April 18, 1688.]

 

During the battle for the Dunker church, Lloyd Quantrell, at the head of a detachment from everywhere: conscripts, filibusters, lads taken from school to stop bullets, and lads never meant for school at all, but to be “sand-hillers” and “crackers,” like all their generations; bright Virginia yeomen and ardent young Carolinians, Irishmen from the wharves of cities, creoles from the levees, with Spanish and St. Domingo blood; fat, chicken-fed Georgians and Alabamans, lean duelists and card-players from Mississippi, men without origin from the spontaneous grass of Texas, and freckled skeletons from Tennessee — fought the ever-recurring advance of the Union army with the business coolness and rallying power he showed in Baltimore in firemen’s times. Though Lloyd had reasoned upon the errors and follies of the secession cause, he gave it his full physical loyalty, and on his native soil would surpass his best endeavors, in the sight of all these wild levies.

His gun in hand at times, his pistols at others, his sword at closer quarters, and at times with nothing at all, he made the trembling stand, cheered the young tyro at man-killing, pointed the place of latest danger, and hurried to make it good; and, gigantic in stature, free in humor, forgetful of everything but the pleasure and hotness of the fight, he stood more distinct than a general, with clothes ripped by bullets and hat already ragged, one arm in a sling and his pair of new boots taken from a Federal corpse, his face black with powder and his food an ear of corn, and the dead around and before him unobserved as the limestone ledges which stood also in battle-lines under the beautiful woods.

The blue line of battle came on again through the shot-mowed Indian maize, announced by the skirmishers falling back with reports like pop-corn in the pan.

“Now, boys,” cried Quantrell, “we’ll blow them out like a candle! We’ve had a little rest. Lie down behind the stone copings and take aim, and fire low — only when I give the word.”

The emaciated, awed, but energized battalion fell down, and awaited the shock of war.

“Great Patapsco!” laughed Quantrell, “how many more Yankees can there be? We’ve killed a million, and here they come again. This war will last till the Yankees learn to fire low, and then it won’t last six months.”

He was a great comfort to his men — candid, saucy, satirical, as apt to sing as to swear — and now he, alone, stood up, gnawing a half dry ear of corn, and shaking the cob at the enemy — otherwise unarmed — and daring them to come nearer:

“Come on! Right here, to meeting! Come to love-feast! Come get your feet washed! Come get your hair cut! Come and get some lamb-soup! Come, brethren — come to hell!”

Stalwart and ragged as a pirate, Lloyd’s sense of humor even in this moment of intensity rose supreme; for the Federal leader was, like the Dunkers he had described, with straggling beard and shaved lip and long hair.

A blast of flame and lead blew from the Northern rifles, and the old Dunker church cracked like a white slave under the rawhide.

“Hold fast! I’ll make him who fires before I speak, eat all this corn-cob! Low, now, and — fire!

The ground burst with smoke, and in the smoke rose the feeble rebel yell, and on before was another yell like women screaming.

“Snuffed out!” exclaimed Quantrell, grimly; “all are dead that have got legs. Give me a fresh ear, somebody!”

His men had hardly congratulated themselves, when the blue line reappeared, decimated, shorter, but steady yet — reformed behind the knoll and the corn — and the bearded figure leading it on, wore his arm also in a sling now, like Lloyd Quantrell.

“That Yankee’s almost as saucy as I am,” chuckled Lloyd to his men. “Now, down again, and finish them! Not a trigger goes till I call out!”

“Now, low — fire!”

As the smoke and dust arose from the fields, the same mournful wail and the same rejoicing rebel yell echoed to each other.

“The graveyard’s full!” said Lloyd; “I don’t see a man!”

As the volleys of musketry went round the circuit of the battle-field, and the hushed and wondering soldiery gazed forth from the Dunker woods, they saw the same man, in beard and long hair, appear at the edge of the corn-field, at the head of a poor and uncertain handful of men in blue. He waved a sword and shook his head, and seemed to be saying, “Forward!”

It was in vain. The waft of death, twice blown from those mysterious woods, had broken the hearts of his followers.

The bearded man seemed now making a speech. He threatened his soldiers with a drawn pistol. He stripped his sword-sash from his body and threw it on the ground and stamped upon it.

“They won’t come,” said Quantrell; “I wouldn’t if I was they.”

The man they looked at now walked right toward them, head up. He came on, pistol in hand, not to surrender, but to defy, and to set the example of duty, and to die.

“Why,” Quantrell said, “if this was his church, he couldn’t show more confidence walking up to his pulpit. Don’t fire at him. Don’t kill that man!”

To the credit of the worst among them, there was no such intention. His personal, unattended valor, and the appreciation of it, encompassed the whole battalion of his enemies. But it became apparent that he must die, lest he kill some one or many among them. His pace never slackened, nor were his features relaxed. He meant to give his life, but to exact life for it.

The whole stooping body peered up to see him; guns were cocked, and his heart seemed to beat visibly in the air where he walked, like the perforated cardboard it was in a moment to be.

“Don’t shoot so game a fellow-man!” called Lloyd; “I’ll trip him up and take him alive.”

As he and they all stared at this effigy, whose breathing they could almost hear, their flank, which they had neglected for this spectacle, flamed and thundered, and Lloyd Quantrell turned his head to see the woods full of blue blouses and charging men, and to hear a wail of anguish at his very feet, and see his battalion rise and rush from his side in the panic of demoralization.

At the same moment a pistol went off at his own ear, and he grappled with a strong man.

Another human body rushed between, and the pistol was again discharged.

Lloyd seemed to be in a burning house, and suffocated.


 

CHAPTER XLIX.

THE RETURN.

The farm of Jake Bosler looked almost princely in the spring, as the masons and carpenters had improved and enlarged the buildings, and art had arranged the grounds; but the old man, with his fair possessions, had a hunger that neither wealth nor heaven could satisfy, till, one morning, he came down from bed, and saw that strangers had entered his house in the night, taking advantage of a latch never secured by any bolt.

A child of fair hair and large dark eyes, like his missing daughter’s, sat playing upon the floor.

“Why, bubelly,” exclaimed Jake, stammering, “whose is te baby?”

“Danpa’s,” lisped the child, arising; “we’s tum home.”

“We?” articulated Jake; “I dinks I hear my olty. Is it te shpook of death?”

He sank trembling into a seat and stared at the child, as if his hour had come.

“Don’t you know Winter,* danpa?” asked the child, coming up and leaning on his knee.

[* Abel Quantrell “took a sardonic joy in his grandchild, which he named Winter, in honor of his Congressman friend, and to mark its want of fatherly care.” (p. 452) — Ed.]

“Winter?” the old man said. “It was winter when my Katy went away. Winter nefer has been gone since then. It will pe winter in my heart till — Bi’m-by.”

Tears dimmed his eyes, but through them came a vision of a woman in the Dunker dress entering the door, and the early sunshine from the crest of the Catoctin Mountain followed her along the floor, giving her the golden halo of the martyrs in the Baptist book.

“Fader,” said the apparition, kneeling down, “I waited till the war was ended for the father of my boy to come and put the ring upon my finger. I trusted him, and still will trust, and here, it has been predicted by the good witch, that he will come to-day to do me right. May we stay here, fader?”

She took the boy into her arms, and waited like one afraid.

“Stay with fader?” the old man said, tottering up, “where can you stay but here? I feel te summer in my old heart, and all my prayers is answered. Te only ring I’f looked for is my child’s arms around my neck, where Gott unites us and noting can efer diwide.”

They were kneeling, and they entered into prayer. The old man used his native Dutch, and thanked the Lord, not for the gift of honor, nor even purity, but for the gift of child; and as he prayed, the door being open, the unaccredited creation came in — chickens without pedigree, ducks without a family tree, the peacock without other primogeniture than a spangled tail, Guinea-hens fearing to forget their name of species, and conning over “buckwheat-buckwheat,” and the capon, most indifferent of all.

The child — also uncertified in the herd-book of mankind — left the prayer, and ran and raced among these, his silken ringlets bounding from his shoulders, and in his large eyes the mountain landscapes seemed to stand reflected like Narcissus in the well.

“Fader, forgive my ingratitude,” spoke Katy, as she and the old man walked forth upon the new veranda in the soft spring air; “I longed to see you, but I did not come for that: love for his father brought me here.”

She pointed to her boy.

“I know, my child,” said Jake, “how te young must leave fader and modder and cleaf to a young man, and nater led you away and back to home ag’in. Te Lord be thanked for nater, dat makes te lost sheep find home. But his fader has peen a rebel, and Fader Abe is killed! How can Luter, your bruder — poor Lincoln made him a cheneral te day he died — meet te man dat wounded him and took his sister’s goot name?”

As they spoke, there was a sound of hoarse and broken singing in the road, and three men approached the gate, staggering drunkenly, but one of them had music in his windpipe, though he was the drunkest of the three, and with arms across the gate, sweeping the house with his dazed, unseeing eyes, he let the deep notes roar to the sound of an accordion he played:

“My country! ’Tis of thee,
  Sweet land of liberty,
  Of thee I sing!”

His great stature and weight, unmanageable against the frail lattice gate, broke it down, and he fell on his face in Bosler’s lawn, the accordion flying from his hand and breaking to pieces.

His companions looked at him with tipsy grins, and hands in idiotic flowing gestures, and laughed a loud and hollow —

“Ha! ha! ha! ha!”

The mocking sound seemed to roll between the parallel mountains, and echo and echo, like the mourning-guns from Harper’s Ferry.

“The slave-catchers have got my Lloyd!” shouted Katy. “The Logans have brought him back!”

She started down the path with winged feet, pursued by her boy.

The ragged, ruined, wind-beaten man turned up his dry, bleared eyes and muttered:

“I’m for she Gover’ment! I’m true blue. Hurrah for she ole flag!”

“O Lloyd, my love,” cried Katy, “there is one battle more that you and I must fight — for your poor soul!”

“My love,” the great giant looked up and spoke, with humor in his beggary, “we shelebrated she peash lash night at Harper’s Ferry. We shwore allegiensh on honor bright. It’ll be all right in she morning when we go shee my father — God blesh him!”

“Ha! ha! ha! ha!” went up the laughter of Lloyd’s retreating comrades, pursued by echoes from bridge and barn and dwelling.

“I am promised this conversion,” spoke Katy, kissing her child as she held him in her arms, and looked to the skies with streaming eyes; “God, who has given me his father’s penitence, will not deny me my husband’s soul!”

“Paptize him in te spring-house where we found him,” cried Jake Bosler; “he’ll come to — Bi’m-by.”

With this, Jake poured on the drunkard’s head cold water from the dairy, and Katy rubbed his temples.


 

CHAPTER LI.

EMIGRAVIT.

It was a Sunday laden with blossoms and dove-warblings when Quantrell sat again in the old Dunker meeting under the azure bar of the South Mountain, and heard Luther speak the gospel of peace and forgiveness.

Lloyd thought how he had been spared where so many fell — some by the sword, and some by the flesh; some by their weakness, and some by their strength; some shipwrecked upon the world; some brought home, like the ark of Noah, to the mountain-tops; and the soft, illimitable bar of the mountain gave him rest to look upon it as if it were the rainbow of God’s covenant brought down to be his barrier against the consuming fires of human rage.

As he walked toward the flowing stream to kneel and be dipped into the Pietist brotherhood, Katy looked at him with the sense of an old belief now assured, and Jake Bosler murmured:

“Nefer mind! — Bi’m-by is come, Katy!”

Then they went on to the inclination of the mountain, where Smoketown stood like something lost and sprinkled along the highway. The jaws of the sundered hillocks drank them in, and the witch’s wild lawn stood in rank strength and flower, around her little cabin, while the clear torrent gurgled around the fruit-tree roots, and near the door two doves were sitting side by side on an apple-bough, and in a low tone were saying:

“Coo-roo! — ah, coo-roo!”

“Go in, my brother,” Edgar Pittson said; “your father is expecting you.” . . .

 

 

THE END.