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“He is a good man.

“Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?”

From this period Linwood was every day at the
glen, and Eliot as often as his very strict performance
of his duties permitted. He was charmed
with the warm-hearted hospitality of Mr. Ruthven,
and not quite insensible to the evident partiality
of Miss Charlotte. She did not pass the vestibule
of his heart to the holy of holies, but in the vestibule
(of even the best of hearts) vanity is apt to
lurk. If Eliot therefore was not insensible to the
favour of Miss Charlotte, an every-day character,
Linwood could not be expected to resist the dazzling
influence of her potent sister. A more wary
youth might have been scorched in the focus of
her charms. Helen Ruthven was some three or
four years older than Linwood,—a great advantage
when the subject to be practised on combines simplicity
and credulity with inexperience. Without
being beautiful, by the help of grace and versatility,
and artful adaptation of the aids and artifices of the
toilet, Miss Ruthven produced the effect of beauty.
Never was there a more skilful manager of the
blandishments of her sex. She knew how to infuse


Page 136
into a glance “thoughts that breathe,”—how
to play off those flatteries that create an atmosphere
of perfume and beauty,—how to make her
presence felt as the soul of life, and life in her absence
a dreary day of nothingness. She had little
true sensibility or generosity (they go together); but
selecting a single object on which to lavish her
feeling, like a shallow stream compressed into a
narrow channel, it made great show and noise.
Eliot stood on disenchanted ground; and, while
looking on the real shape, was compelled to see
his credulous and impulsive friend becoming from
day to day more and more inthralled by the false
semblance. “Is man's heart,” he asked himself,
“a mere surface, over which one shadow chaseth
another?” No. But men's hearts have different
depths. In some, like Eliot Lee's (who was destined
to love once and for ever), love strikes a deep and
ineradicable root; interweaves itself with the very
fibres of life, and becomes a portion of the undying

In other circumstances Eliot would have obeyed
his impulses, and endeavoured to dissolve the spell
for his friend; but he was deterred by the consciousness
of disappointment that his sister was so soon
superseded, and by his secret wish that Linwood
should remain free till a more auspicious day should
rectify all mischances. Happily, Providence sometimes
interposes to do that for us which we neglect
to do for ourselves.


Page 137

As has been said, Linwood devoted every leisure
hour to Helen Ruthven. Sometimes accompanied
by Charlotte and Eliot, but oftener without them,
they visited the almost unattainable heights, the
springs and waterfalls, in the neighbourhood of
West Point, now so well known to summer travellers
that we have no apology for lingering to describe
them. They scaled the coal-black summits
of the “Devil's Peak;” went as far heavenward as
the highest height of the “Crow's Nest;” visited
“Bull-Hill, Butter-Hill, and Break-neck,”—places
that must have been named long before our day of
classic, heathenish, picturesque, and most ambitious
christening of this new world.

Helen Ruthven did not affect this scrambling
“thorough bush, thorough brier,” through streamlet,
snow, and mud, from a pure love of nature. Oh,
no, simple reader! but because at her home in the
glen there was but one parlour—there, from morning
till bedtime, sat her father—there, of course,
must sit her mother; and Miss Ruthven's charms,
like those of other conjurers, depended for their
success on being exercised within a magic circle,
within which no observer might come. She seemed
to live and breathe alone for Herbert Linwood. A
hundred times he was on the point of offering the
devotion of his life to her, when the image of his
long-loved Bessie Lee rose before him, and, like
the timely intervention of the divinities of the ancient
creed, saved him from impending danger.


Page 138
This could not last much longer. On each successive
occasion the image was less vivid, and must
soon cease to be effective.

Spring was advancing, and active military operations
were about to commence. A British sloop-of-war
had come up the river, and lay at anchor in
Haverstraw Bay. Simultaneously with the appearance
of this vessel there was a manifest
change in the spirits of the family at the glen—a
fall in their mercury. Though they were still
kind, their reception of our friends ceased to be
cordial, and they were no longer urged, or even
asked, to repeat their visits. Charlotte, who, like
her father, was warm and true-hearted, ventured to
intimate that this change of manner did not originate
in any diminution of friendliness; but, save
this, there was no approach to an explanation; and
Eliot ceased to pay visits that, it was obvious, were
no longer acceptable. The mystery, as he thought,
was explained, when they incidentally learned that
Captain Ruthven, the only son of their friend, was
an officer on board the vessel anchored in Haverstraw
Bay. This solution did not satisfy Linwood.
“How, in Heaven's name,” he asked, “should
that affect their intercourse with us? It might, to
be sure, agitate them; but, upon my word, I don't
believe they even know it;” and, in the simplicity
of his heart, he forthwith set off to give them information
of the fact. Mr. Ruthven told him, frankly
and at once, that he was already aware of it,—and


Page 139
Helen scrawled on a music-book which lay before
them, “Do you remember Hamlet? `ten thousand
brothers!' ” What she exactly meant was not
plain; but he guessed her intimation to be, that
ten thousand brothers and their love were not to be
weighed against him. Notwithstanding this kind
intimation, he saw her thenceforth unfrequently.
If he called, she was not at home; if she made an
appointment with him, she sent him some plausible
excuse for not keeping it; and if they met,
she was silent and abstracted, and no longer kept
up a show of the passion that a few weeks before
had inspired her words, looks, and movements.
Herbert was not destined to be one of love's few
martyrs; and he was fast reverting to a sound
state, only retarded by the mystery in which
the affair was still involved. Since the beginning
of his intercourse with the family, his Sunday
evenings had been invariably spent at the
glen; and now he received a note from Miss Ruthven
(not, as had been her wont, crossed and double-crossed),
containing two lines, saying her father
was ill, and as she was obliged to attend him, she
regretted to beg Mr. Linwood to omit his usual
Sunday evening visit! Linwood had a lurking
suspicion—he was just beginning to suspect—that
this was a mere pretext; and he resolved to go to
the glen, ostensibly to inquire after Mr. Ruthven,
but really to satisfy his doubts. It was early in
the evening when he reached there. The cheerful


Page 140
light that usually shot forth its welcome from
the parlour window was gone—all was darkness.
“I was a rascal to distrust her!” thought Linwood,
and he hastened on, fearing good Mr. Ruthven
was extremely ill. As he approached the house
he perceived that, for the first time, the window-shutters
were closed, and that a bright light gleamed
through their crevices. He put his hand on
the latch of the door to open it, as was his custom,
without rapping; but no longer, as if instinct
with the hospitality of the house, did it
yield to his touch. It was bolted! He hesitated
for a moment whether to knock for admittance,
and endeavour to satisfy his curiosity, or to
return as wise as he came. His delicacy decided
on the latter course; and he was turning away,
when a sudden gust of wind blew open one of the
rickety blinds, and instinctively he looked through
the window, and for a moment was riveted by the
scene disclosed within. Mr. Ruthven sat at a table
on which were bottles of wine, olives, oranges, and
other most rare luxuries. Beside him sat a young
man—his younger self. Linwood did not need a
second glance to assure him this was Captain
Ruthven. On a stool at her brother's feet sat
Charlotte, her arm lovingly resting on his knee.
Mrs. Ruthven was at the other extremity of the
table, examining, with enraptured eye, caps, feathers,
and flowers, which, as appeared from the boxes
and cords beside her, had just been opened.


Page 141

But the parties that fixed Linwood's attention
were Helen Ruthven and a very handsome young
man, who was leaning over her chair while she
was playing on the piano, and bestowing on him
those wondrous glances that Linwood had verily
believed never met an eye but his! What a sudden
disenchantment was that! Linwood's blood
rushed to his head. He stood as if he were transfixed,
till a sudden movement within recalling him
to himself, he sprang from the steps and retraced
his way up the hill-side:—the spell that had wellnigh
bound him to Helen Ruthven was broken for
ever. No man likes to be duped,—no man likes
to feel how much his own vanity has had to do
with preparing the trap that insnared him. Linwood,
after revolving the past, after looking back
upon the lures and deceptions that had been practised
upon him, after comparing his passion for
Helen Ruthven with his sentiments for Bessie
Lee, came to the consoling conclusion that he had
never loved Miss Ruthven. He was right—and
that night, for the first time in many weeks, he
fell asleep thinking of Bessie Lee.

On the following morning Linwood confided to
Eliot the denœument of his little romance. Eliot
was rejoiced that his friend's illusion should be dispelled
in any mode. After some discussion of
the matter, they came to the natural conclusion
that a clandestine intercourse had been for some
time maintained by the family at the glen with


Page 142
the strangers on board the sloop-of-war, and that
there were reasons for shaking Linwood and Eliot
off more serious than Linwood's flirtation having
been superseded by a fresher and more exciting

In the course of the morning Eliot, in returning
from a ride, at a sudden turn in the road came
upon General Washington and Mr. Ruthven, who
had just met. Eliot was making his passing
salutation when General Washington said, “Stop
a moment, Mr. Lee, we will ride in together.”
While Eliot paused, he heard Mr. Ruthven say,
“You will not disappoint me, general,—Wednesday
evening, and a quiet hour—not with hat and
whip in hand, but time enough to drink a fair
bottle of `Helicon,' as poor Randolph used to
call it—there are but two left, and we shall ne'er
look upon its like again. Wednesday evening—
remember.” General Washington assented, and
the parties were separating, when Mr. Ruthven,
in his cordial manner, stretched out his hand to
Eliot, saying, “My dear fellow, I should ask you
too; but the general and I are old friends, and I
want a little talk with him, by ourselves, of old
times. Besides, no man, minus forty, must have a
drop of my `Helicon;' but come down soon and
see the girls,—they are Helicon enough for you
young fellows, hey?”

As Mr. Ruthven rode away, “There goes,” said
General Washington, “as true-hearted a man as


Page 143
ever breathed. We were born on neighbouring
plantations. Our fathers and grandfathers were
friends. Our hearts were cemented in our youth,
or at least in my youth, for he is much my elder,
but his is a heart always fusible. Poor man, he
has had much ill-luck in life; but the worst, and
the worst, let me tell you, my young friend, that can
befall any man, was an ill-starred marriage. His
wife is the daughter of a good-for-nothing Frenchman;
bad blood, Mr. Lee. The children show
the cross—I beg Miss Charlotte's pardon, she is a
nice girl, fair Virginia stock; but Miss Helen is—
very like her mother. The son I do not know; but
his fighting against his country is primâ facie evidence
against him.”

The conversation then diverged to other topics.
There was in Eliot that union of good sense, keen
intelligence, manliness, and modesty, that excited
Washington's esteem, and drew him out; and Eliot
had the happiness, for a half hour, of hearing him
whom of all men he most honoured, talk freely, and
of assuring himself that this great man did not, as
was sometimes said of him,

“A wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom;”
but that his taciturnity was the result of profound
thought, anxiously employed on the most serious

Late in the afternoon of the same day, Linwood


Page 144
received a note from Helen Ruthven, enclosing one
to General Washington, of which, after entreating
him to deliver it immediately, she thus explained
the purport. “It contains a simple request to your
mighty commander-in-chief, to permit me to visit
my brother on board his vessel. I know that
Washington's heart is as hard as Pharaoh's, and as
unrelenting as Brutus's; still it is not, it cannot be
in man to refuse such a request to the daughter of
an old friend. Do, dear, kind Linwood, urge it for
me, and win the everlasting gratitude of your unworthy
but always devoted friend, Helen Ruthven

Urge it!” exclaimed Linwood, as he finished
the note, “urge General Washington! I should as
soon think of urging the sun to go backward or
forward; but I'll present it for you, my `devoted
friend, Helen,' and in merely doing that my heart
will be in my mouth.”

He obtained an audience. General Washington
read the note, and turning to Linwood, asked
him if he knew its purport.

“Yes, sir,” replied Linwood, “and I cannot,”
he ventured to add, “but hope you will find it
fitting to gratify a desire so natural.”

“Perfectly natural; Miss Ruthven tells me she
has not seen her brother for four years.” Linwood
felt his honest blood rush to his face at this flat
falsehood from his friend Helen. Washington
perceived the suffusion and misinterpreted it.


Page 145
“You think it a hard case, Mr. Linwood; it is so,
but there are many hard cases in this unnatural
war. It grieves me to refuse Helen Ruthven—
the child of my good friend.” He passed his eye
again over the note, and there was an expression
of displeasure and contempt in his curling lip as he
read such expressions as the following: “I cannot
be disappointed, for I am addressing one who
unites all virtues, whose mercy even surpasses his
justice.”—“I write on my knees to him who is
the minister of Providence, dispensing good and
evil, light and blessing, with a word.” General
Washington threw down the note, saying, “Miss
Ruthven should remember that flattery corrupts
the giver as well as the receiver. I have no choice
in this matter. We have an inflexible rule prohibiting
all intercourse with the enemy.”

He then wrote a concise reply, which Linwood
sent to the lady in a blank envelope.

“Ah!” thought Helen Ruthven, as she opened
it, “this would not have been blank three weeks
ago, mais n'importe. Mr. Herbert Linwood, you
may run free now; I have nobler prey in my toils.”
She unsealed General Washington's note, and after
glancing her eye over it, she tore it into fragments
and dispersed it to the winds, exclaiming, “I'll risk
my life to carry my point; and if I do, I'll humble
you, and have a glorious revenge!”

She spent a sleepless night in contriving, revolving,
and dismissing plans on which, as she fancied,


Page 146
the destiny of the nation hung, and, what was far
more important in her eyes, Helen Ruthven's
destiny. She at last adopted the boldest that had
occurred, and which, from being the boldest, best
suited her dauntless temper.

The next morning, Tuesday, with her mother's
aid and applause, she effected her preparations; and
having fortunately learned, during her residence on
the river, to row and manage a boat, she embarked
alone in a little skiff, and stealing out of a nook near
the glen, she rowed into the current and dropped
down the river. She did not expect to escape observation,
for though the encampment did not command
a view of the Hudson, there were sentinels posted
at points that overlooked it, and batteries that commanded
its passage. But rightly calculating on
the general humanity that governed our people, she
had no apprehensions they would fire on a defenceless
woman, and very little fear that they would
think it worth while to pursue her, to prevent that
which she dared to do before their eyes and in the
face of day.

Her calculations proved just. The sentinels
levelled their guns at her, in token not to proceed;
and she in return dropped her head, raised her
hands deprecatingly, and passed on unmolested.

At a short distance below the Point there is a
remarkable spot, scooped out by nature in the
rocky bank, always beautiful, and now a consecrated
shrine—a “Mecca of the mind.” On the


Page 147
memorable morning of Miss Ruthven's enterprise,
the welcome beams of the spring sun, as he rose
in the heavens, casting behind him a soft veil of
light clouds, shone on the gray rocks, freshening
herbage, and still disrobed trees of this lovely recess.
From crevices in the perpendicular rocks that wall
up the table-land above, hung a sylvan canopy;
cedars, studded with their blue berries, wild raspberries,
and wild rose-bushes; and each moist and
sunny nook was gemmed with violets and wild
geraniums. The harmonies of nature's orchestra
were the only and the fitting sounds in this seclusion:
the early wooing of the birds; the water from
the fountains of the heights, that, filtering through
the rocks, dropped from ledge to ledge with the
regularity of a water-clock; the ripple of the waves
as they broke on the rocky points of the shore, or
softly kissed its pebbly margin; and the voice of the
tiny stream, that, gliding down a dark, deep, and almost
hidden channel in the rocks, disappeared, and
welled up again in the centre of the turfy slope,
stole over it, and trickled down the lower ledge of
granite to the river. Tradition has named this
little green shelf on the rocks “Kosciusko's Garden;”
but as no traces have been discovered of
any other than nature's plantings, it was probably
merely his favourite retreat, and as such is a monument
of his taste and love of nature.

The spring is now enclosed in a marble basin,


Page 148
and inscribed with his name who then lay extended
beside it: Kosciusko, the patriot of his own country,
the friend of ours, the philanthropist of all, the
enemy only of those aliens from the human family
who are the tyrants of their kind. An unopen
book lay beside him, while, gazing up through the
willows that drooped over the fountain, he perused
that surpassing book of nature, informed by
the spirit and written by the finger of God—a
Book of revelations of his wisdom, and power,
and goodness.

Suddenly his musings were disturbed by approaching
footsteps; and looking up, he saw Linwood
and Eliot winding down the steep pathway
between the piled rocks. He had scarcely
exchanged salutations with them, when the little
boat in which Helen Ruthven was embarked shot
out from behind the dark ledge that bounded their
upward view of the river. They sprang forward
to the very edge of the sloping ground. Helen
Ruthven would most gladly have escaped their
observation, but that she perceived was impossible;
and making the very best of her dilemma, she
tossed her head exultingly, and waved her handkerchief.
The young men instinctively returned
her greeting. “A gallant creature, by Heaven!”
exclaimed the Pole; “God speed you, my girl!”
And when Linwood told him who she was, and her
enterprise, so far as he thought fit to disclose it,


Page 149
he reiterated, “Again then, I say, God speed her!
The sweetest affections of nature should be free
as this gushing rill, that the rocks and the earth can't
keep back; I am glad when they throw off the
shackles imposed by the cruel but inevitable laws
of war.” They continued to gaze after the boat
till it turned and disappeared with the river in its
winding passage through the mountains.

On Wednesday morning it appeared that the
sloop-of-war had changed her position, and approached
as nearly to West Point as was possible
without coming within the range of its guns. “I
am convinced,” said Linwood to Eliot, taking up
the thread of conversation where they had dropped
it the day before, “I am convinced there is a
plot brewing.”

“I am apprehensive of it too. Our obvious
duty, Linwood, is to go to General Washington, and
tell him all we know of the Ruthvens.”

“My service to you!—no, he is the wariest of
human beings, and has grounds enough for suspicion
without our prompting. Can't he put this
and that together—the old man's pressing invitation,
Helen's flight, and the movement of the

“Ah, if his suspicions were excited, as ours are,
by previous circumstances, these would suffice;
but he has entire confidence in his old friend; he
is uninformed of the strong tory predilections of
the whole family; and, though he does not like


Page 150
Helen Ruthven, he has no conception of what we
have tolerable proof, that she has the talents of
a regular bred French intriguer. Besides, as
the fact of your having seen those men at the
glen proves the practicability of their visiting it
again, the general should certainly be apprized
of it.`'

“No, Eliot, I'll not consent to it—this is my
game, and I must control it. It is a violation of
the Arab bread-and-salt rule, to communicate that
which was obtained by our friendly intimacy at the

“I think you are wrong, Linwood; it is a case
where an inferior obligation should yield to a superior

“I don't comprehend your metaphysical reasoning,
Eliot; I govern myself by the obligations I

“By the dictates of your conscience, my dear
fellow? so do I; therefore I shall go immediately
to the general, with or without you.”

“Not with me—no, I'll not tell him what I know,
that's flat; and as to being questioned and cross-questioned
by him, heavens and earth! when he but
bends his awful brow upon me, I feel as if my
heart were turning inside out. No, I'll not go
near him. Why can't we write an anonymous

“I do not like anonymous letters—my course
appears plain to me, so good morning to you.”


Page 151

“One moment, Eliot—remember, not a word of
what I saw through the window at the glen.”

“Certainly not, if you insist.” Eliot then went
to the general's markee, and was told he would see
him in two hours. Eliot returned at the precise
moment, and was admitted. “You are punctual,
Mr. Lee,” said the commander, “and I thank you
for it. A young man should be as exact in military
life as the play requires the lover to be! `he
should not break a part of the thousandth part of
a minute.' Your business, sir?”

Eliot was beginning to disclose it, when they
were interrupted by a servant, who handed General
Washington a note. A single involuntary glance
at the superscription assured Eliot it was from
Linwood. General Washington opened it, and
looked first for the signature, as one naturally does
at receiving a letter in an unknown hand. “Anonymous!”
he said; and refolding without reading a
word of it, he lighted it in a candle, still burning
on the desk where he had been sealing letters, and
suffered it to consume; saying, “This is the way
I now serve all anonymous letters, Mr. Lee. Men
in public life are liable to receive many such communications,
and to have their minds disturbed, and
sometimes poisoned, by them. They are the resort
of the cowardly or the malignant. An honest man
will sustain by his name what he thinks proper to

“There is no rule of universal application to the


Page 152
versatile mind of man,” thought Eliot, and his heart
burned to justify his friend; when the general reminding
him they had no time to lose, he proceeded
concisely to state his apprehensions and their
grounds. Washington listened to him without interruption,
but not without an appaling change of
countenance. “I have heard you through, Mr.
Lee,” he said; “your apprehensions are perhaps
natural; at any rate, I thank you for frankly communicating
them to me; but, be assured, your suspicions
have no foundation. Do you think such
vile treachery could be plotted by a Virginian, my
neighbour, my friend of thirty years, my father's
friend, when all the grievous trials of this war
have not produced a single traitor? No, no, Mr.
Lee, I would venture my life—my country, on the
cast of Ruthven's integrity. If I do not lightly
give my confidence, I do not lightly withdraw it;
and once withdrawn it is never restored.”

Eliot left Washington's presence, half convinced
himself that his suspicions were unfounded.
It never occurred to Washington or to Eliot
that there might be a conspiracy without Mr.
Ruthven being a party to it, and the supposition
that he was so invalidated all the evidences of a

In the afternoon Kisel asked leave to avail himself
of a permit which Eliot had obtained for him,
to go on the opposite side of the river to a little
brook, whence he had often brought a mess of


Page 153
trout for the officers' table; for our friend Kisel
was skilled in the craft of angling, and might have
served Cruikshank for an illustration of Johnson's
definition of the word, “a fishing-rod, with a bait at
one end and a fool at the other;” but happily, as it
proved, our fool had some “subtlety in his simplicity.”
Eliot gave him the permission, with
directions to row up to the glen when he returned,
and await him there.

Eliot determined to go to the glen, and station
himself on the margin of the river, where, in case
(a chance that seemed to him at least possible) of
the approach of an enemy's boat, he should descry
it in time to give Washington warning. He went
in search of Linwood, to ask him to accompany
him; but Linwood was nowhere to be found. He
deliberated whether to communicate his apprehensions
to some other officer. The confidence the
general had manifested had nearly dissipated his
apprehensions, and he feared to do what might appear
like officiousness, or like a distrust of Washington's
prudence; that virtue, which, to remain, as
it then was, the bulwark of his country's safety,
must continue unsuspected.

Eliot in his anxiety had reached the glen while
it was yet daylight; and, careful to escape observation,
he stole along the little strip of pebbly beach
where a mimic bay sets in, and seated himself on
a pile of rocks, the extreme point of a hill that
descends abruptly to the Hudson. Here the river,


Page 154
hemmed in by the curvatures of the mountains,
has the appearance of a lake; for the passage is so
narrow and winding through which it forces its
way, that the eye scarcely detects it. Eliot for a
while forgot the tediousness of his watch in looking
around him. The mountains at the entrance
of the Hudson into the highlands, which stand
like giant sentinels jealously guarding the narrow
portal, appeared, whence he saw them, like a
magnificent framework to a beautiful picture. An
April shower had just passed over, and the mist
was rolling away like the soft folds of a curtain
from the village of Newburgh, which looked
like the abode of all “country contentments,” as
the setting sun shone cheerily on its gentle slopes
and white houses, contrasting it with the stern features
of the mountains. Far in the distance, the
Catskills, belted by clouds, appeared as if their
blue heads were suspended in the atmosphere and
mingling with the sky, from which an eye familiar
with their beautiful outline could alone distinguish
them. But the foreground of his picture
was most interesting to Eliot; and as his eye
again fell on the little glen sleeping in the silvery
arms of the rills between which it lies—
“can this place,” he thought, “so steeped in nature's
loveliness, so enshrined in her temple, be
the abode of treachery! It has been of heartlessness,
coquetry, duplicity—ah, there is no power
in nature, in the outward world, to convert the


Page 155
bad—blessings it has; blessings manifold, for the

The spirit of man, alone in nature's solitudes, is
an instrument which she manages at will; and Eliot,
in his deepening seriousness and anxiety, felt himself
answering to her changing aspect. The young
foliage of the well-wooded little knoll that rises
over the glen had looked fresh and feathery, and
as bright as an infant awaking to happy consciousness;
but as the sun withdrew its beams, it appeared
as dreary as if it had parted from a smiling
friend. And when the last gleams of day had
stolen up the side of the Crow's Nest, shot over the
summit of Break-neck, flushed the clouds and disappeared,
and the wavy lines and natural terraces
beyond Cold Spring, and the mass of rocks and
pines of Constitution Island. were wrapped in sadcoloured
uniform, Eliot shrunk from the influence
of the general desolateness, and became impatient
of his voluntary watch.

One after another the kindly-beaming homelights
shot forth from hill and valley, and Eliot's
eye catching that which flashed from Mr. Ruthven's
window, he determined on a reconnoitre; and
passing in front of the house he saw Washington
and his host seated at a table, served with wine
and nuts, but none of those tropical luxuries
that had been manifestly brought to the glen
by the stranger-guests from the sloop-of-war.
Eliot's heart gladdened at seeing the friends enjoying


Page 156
one of those smooth and delicious passages
that sometimes vary the ruggedest path of life.
That expression of repelling and immoveable gravity,
that look of tension (with him the bow was always
strained) that characterized Washington's
face, had vanished like a cloud; and it now serenely
reflected the social affections (bright and
gentle spirits!) that, for the time, mastered his perplexing
cares. He was retracing the period of his
boyhood; a period, however, cloudy in its passage,
always bright when surveyed over the shoulder.
He recalled his first field-sports, in which Ruthven
had been his companion and teacher; and they
laughingly reviewed many an accident by flood
and field. “No wonder,” thought Eliot, as in passing
he glanced at Ruthven's honest, jocund face;
“no wonder Washington would not distrust him!”

Eliot returned to his post. The stars had come
out, and looked down coldly and dimly through a
hazy atmosphere. The night was becoming obscure.
A mist was rising; and shortly after a
heavy fog covered the surface of the river. Eliot
wondered that Kisel had not made his appearance;
for, desultory as the fellow was, he was as true to
his master as the magnet to the pole. Darkness
is a wonderful magnifier of apprehended danger;
and, as it deepened, Eliot felt as if enemies were
approaching from every quarter. Listening intently,
he heard a distant sound of oars. He was
all ear. “Thank Heaven!” he exclaimed, “it is


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Kisel—a single pair of oars, and his plashy irregular
dip!” In a few moments he was discernible;
and nearing the shore, he jumped upon the rock
where Eliot stood, crying out exultingly, “I've
dodged 'em, hey!”

“Softly, Kisel; who have you dodged?”

“Them red birds in their borrowed feathers.
Cheat me? No. Can't I tell them that chops,
and reaps, and mows, and thrashes, from them that
only handles a sword or a gun, let 'em put on what
ev'yday clothes they will?”

“Tell me, Kisel, plainly and quickly, what you

A command from Eliot, uttered in a tone of even
slight displeasure, had a marvellous effect in steadying
Kisel's wits; and he answered with tolerable
clearness and precision:—“I was cutting 'cross lots
before sunset with a mess of trout, long as my
arm—shiners! when I stumbled on a bunch of
fellows squatted 'mong high bushes. They held
me by the leg, and said they'd come down with
provisions for Square Ruthven's folks; and they
had not got a pass, and so must wait for nightfall;
and they'd have me stay and guide 'em across, for
they knew they might ground at low water if they
did not get the right track. I mistrusted 'em. I
knew by their tongues they came from below; and
so I cried, and told 'em I should get a whipping
if I didn't get home afore sundown; and one of
'em held a pistol to my head, loaded, primed, and


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cocked, and told me he'd shoot my brains out if
I didn't do as he bid me. `Lo'd o' massy!' says I,
`don't shoot—'twon't do any good, for I hant got no
brains, hey!' ”

“Never mind what you said or they said; what
did you do?”

“I didn't do nothing. They held me fast till
night; and then they pushed their boat out of a
kind o' hiding-place, and come alongside mine,
and put me into it, and told me to pilot 'em. You
know that sandy strip a bit off t'other shore? I
knew my boat would swim over it like a cob,—and
I guessed they'd swamp, and they did; diddle me
if they didn't!”

“Are they there now?”

“There! not if they've the wit of sucking turkeys.
The river there is not deep enough to drown
a dead dog, and they might jump in and pull the
boat out.”

A slight westerly breeze was now rising,
which lifted and wafted the fog so that half the
width of the river was suddenly unveiled, and
Eliot descried a boat making towards the glen.
“By Heaven! there they are!” he exclaimed;
“follow me, Kisel;” and without entering the
house, he ran to the stable close by. Fortunately,
often having had occasion, during his visits at the
glen, to bestow his own horse, he was familiar
with the “whereabouts;” and in one instant General
Washington's charger was bridled and at the


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door, held by Kisel; while Eliot rushed into the
house, and in ten words communicated the danger
and the means of escape. General Washington
said not a word till, as he sprang on the horse,
Ruthven, on whose astounded mind the truth
dawned, exclaimed, “I am innocent.” He replied,
“I believe you.”

Washington immediately galloped up the steep
imbowered road to the Point. Eliot hesitated for
a moment, doubting whether to attempt a retreat
or remain where he was, when Mr. Ruthven
grasped his arm, exclaiming, “Stay, for God's
sake, Mr. Lee; stay, and witness to my innocence.”
The imploring agony with which he spoke would
have persuaded a more inflexible person than Eliot
Lee. In truth, there was little use in attempting
to fly, for the footsteps of the party were already
heard approaching the house. They entered, five
armed men, and were laying their hands on Eliot,
when Mr. Ruthven's frantic gestures, and his
shouts of “He's safe—he's safe—he's escaped
ye!” revealed to them the truth; and they perceived
what in their impetuosity they had over
looked, that they held an unknown young man in
their grasp instead of the priceless Washington!
Deep were the oaths they swore as they dispersed
to search the premises, all excepting one young
man, whose arm Mr. Ruthven had grasped, and to
whom he said, “Harry, you've ruined me—you've
made me a traitor in the eyes of Washington—the


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basest traitor! He said, God bless him! that he
believed me innocent; but he will not when he
reflects that it was I who invited him—who pressed
him to come here this evening—the conspiracy
seems evident—undeniable! Oh, Harry, Harry,
you and your mad sister have ruined me!”

The young man seemed deeply affected by his
father's emotion. He attempted to justify himself
on the plea that he dared not set his filial feeling
against the importance of ending the war by a single
stroke; but this plea neither convinced nor
consoled his father. Young Ruthven's associates
soon returned, having abandoned their search, and
announced the necessity of their immediate return
to the boat. “You must go with us, sir,” said
Ruthven to his father; “for, blameless as you are,
you will be treated by the rebels as guilty of

“By Heaven, Harry, I'll not go. I had rather
die a thousand deaths—on the gallows, if I must—
I'll not budge a foot.”

“He must go—there is no alternative—you
must aid me,” said young Ruthven to his companions.
They advanced to seize his father. “Off—
off!” he cried, struggling against them. “I'll not
go a living man.”

Eliot interposed; and addressing himself to
young Ruthven, said, “Believe me, sir, you are
mistaking your duty. Your father's good name
must be dearer to you than his life; and his good


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name is blasted for ever if in these circumstances
he leaves here. But his life is in no danger
—none whatever—he is in the hands of his friend,
and that friend the most generous, as well as just, of
all human beings. You misunderstand the temper of
General Washington, if you think he would believe
your father guilty of the vilest treachery without
damning proof.” Young Ruthven was more
than half convinced by Eliot, and his companions
had by this time become impatient of delay. Their
spirit had gone with the hope that inspired their
enterprise, and they were now only anxious to
secure a retreat to their vessel. They had some
little debate among themselves whether they should
make Eliot prisoner; but, on young Ruthven's
suggestion that Lieutenant Lee's testimony might
be important to his father, they consented to leave
him—one of them expressing in a whisper the
prevailing sentiment, “We should feel sheepish
enough to gain but a paltry knight when we expected
a checkmate by our move.”

In a few moments more they were off; but not
till young Ruthven had vainly tried to get a kind
parting word from his father. “No, Harry,” he
said, “I'll not forgive you—I can't; you've put
my honour in jeopardy—no, never;” and as his
son turned sorrowfully away, he added, “Never,
Hal, till this cursed war is at an end.”

Early next morning Eliot Lee requested an
audience of Washington, and was immediately


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admitted, and most cordially received. “Think
God, my dear young friend,” he said, “you are
safe, and here. I sent repeatedly to your lodgings
last night, and hearing nothing, I have been exceedingly
anxious. Satisfy me on one point, and
then tell me what happened after my forced retreat.
I trust in Heaven this affair is not bruited.”

Eliot assured him he had not spoken of it to a
human being—not even to Linwood; and that he
had enjoined strict secrecy on Kisel, on whose
obedience he could rely.

“Thank you—thank you, Mr. Lee,” said Washington,
with a warmth startling from him, “I should
have expected this from you—the generous devotion
of youth, and the coolness and prudence of
ripe age—a rare union.”

Such words from him who never flattered and
rarely praised, might well, as they did, make the
blood gush from the heart to the cheeks. “I am
most grateful for this approbation, sir,” said Eliot.

“Grateful! Would to Heaven I had some return
to make for the immense favour you have done
me, beside words; but the importance of keeping
the affair secret precludes all other return. I think
it will not transpire from the enemy,—they are
not like to publish a baffled enterprise. I am
most particularly pleased that you went alone to
the glen. In this instance I almost agree with
Cardinal de Retz, who says, `he held men in
greater esteem for what they forbore to do than


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for what they did.' I now see where I erred
yesterday. It did not occur to me that there could
be a plot without my friend being accessory to it.
I did not err in trusting him. This war has cost
me dear; but, thank Heaven, it has not shaken,
but fortified, my confidence in human virtue!”
Washington then proceeded to inquire into the occurrences
at the glen after he left there, and ended
with giving Eliot a note to deliver to Mr. Ruthven,
which proved a healing balm to the good man's

Our revolutionary contest, by placing men in
new relations, often exhibited in new force and
beauty the ties that bind together the human family.
Sometimes, it is true, they were lightly snapped
asunder, but oftener they manifested an all-resisting
force, and a union that, as in some chymical
combinations, no test could dissolve.


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