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Page 271


— “Good vent'rous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise.”

Captain!—Captain Lee! don't you hear that
horn?” said Gurdon Coit, shaking our soundly-sleeping
friend Eliot.

“Yes, thank you, I hear it;—it's daylight, is it?”

“No, no; but there's something to pay up at
Madam Archer's. Those devils you met on the
road, I doubt, are there—the lights have been
glancing about her rooms this hour, and now
they've blown the horn—there's mischief, depend

“Why in the name of Heaven did not you wake
me sooner?” exclaimed Eliot. “Rouse up these
fellows—wake that snoring wretch on the settle,
and we'll to her aid instantly.”

The offensive snoring ceased as Coit whispered,
“No, don't wake him—edge-tools, you know”
He then proceeded to wake the men from West
Point, who were sleeping on the floor. Eliot, as
they lifted their heads, recognised them—the one a
common soldier, the other a certain Ensign Tooler
—a man who had the most disagreeable modification
of Yankee character; knowingness overlaid
with conceit, and all the self-preserving virtues
concentrated in selfishness, as bad liquor is distilled


Page 272
from wholesome grain. “Tooler, is that you?”
exclaimed Eliot—“and you, Mason? up instantly!”
—and he explained the occasion for their prompt

“And who is this Madam Archer?” asked
Tooler, composedly resting his elbow on the floor.

“She is a woman in need of our protection.
This is enough for us to know,” replied Eliot, discreetly
evading more explicit information.

“She lives in the big house on the hill, don't

“Yes, yes.”

“Then I guess we may as well leave her to her
luck, for she belongs to the tory side.”

“Good Heavens, Tooler!—do you hesitate?—
Mason, go with me if you have the soul of a man.”

“Lie still, Mason, we're under orders,—Captain
Lee must answer for himself. It's none of our
business if he's a mind to go off fighting windmills;
but duty is duty, and we'll keep to the straight and
narrow path.”

“Cowardly, canting wretch!” exclaimed Eliot.

“I'm no coward, Captain Eliot Lee, and if Coit
will say that Madam Archer is on our side, and
you'll undertake to answer to General Washington
for all consequences, I'll not hinder Mason's joining

The terms were impracticable. There was no
time to be lost: “You will go with me, Coit?”
said Eliot.

“Why, Captain Lee, it's a venturesome business.”


Page 273

“Yes or no, Coit! not an instant's delay.”

“I'll go, Captain Lee,—I'm not a brute.”

Mason did not quite relish the consciousness of
acting like a brute, and he half rose, balancing in
his mind the shame of remaining, against the risk
of disobeying his ensign's orders. “Lie still,
Mason,” said Tooler; “mind me and you're safe—
I'll take care of number one.”

The person on the settle now sprang up and poured
a torrent of vituperative oaths and invectives on
Tooler. Tooler looked up with the abject expression
of a barking cur when he hears his master's
voice. “Why, gen'ral,” said he, “if I had known—”

“Don't gen'ral me!—don't defile my name with
your lips! A pretty fellow you, to prate of duty
and orders in the very face of the orders of the
Almighty commander-in-chief, to remember the
widows and fatherless in their affliction. I always
mistrust your fellows that cant about duty.
They'll surrender the post at the first go off, and
then expect conscience to let them march out with
the honours of war.”

“I'm ready to go, sir,—ready and willing, if you
say so.”

“No, by George!—I'd rather fight single-handed
with fifty skinners, than have one such cowardly
devil as you at my side.” All this was said
while “the gen'ral” was putting on his coat and hat,
and arming himself; “are we ready, Captain
Lee?” he concluded.

“Perfectly,” replied Eliot, wondering who this


Page 274
sturdy authoritative auxiliary might be, but not
venturing to ask, as he thought “the gen'ral” had
implied his wish to remain incognito, and really not
caring at this moment whose arm it was, provided
it was raised in Mrs. Archer's defence. After one
keen survey of “the gen'ral's” person, he concluded,
“I never have seen him.” He had not. Once
seen, that frank, fearless countenance was never to
be forgotten; neither could one well forget the
broad, brawny, working-day frame that sustained
it, or the peculiar limp (caused by one leg being
shorter than the other), the only imperfection and
marring of the figure of our rustic Hercules.

In an instant they were mounted, and in five
minutes more, the distance not much exceeding
half a mile, they were entering Mrs. Archer's
hall. An ominous silence reigned there. The
house was filled with smoke, through which the
lighted candles, left by Hewson's crew, faintly
glimmered, and exposed the relics of their feast,
with other marks of their forray. A bright light
shone through the crevices of the pantry door;
Coit opened it, and immediately the flames of a
fire which had been communicated (whether intentionally,
was never ascertained) to a chest of linen
burst forth. “Good Heaven! where are the family!”
exclaimed Eliot and his companion, in a breath.

“Follow me,” cried Coit, leading the way to
Mrs. Archer's apartment, and shouting “fire!”
His screams were answered by the female servants,
who now rushed from their mistress's apartment.
“Where's your lady?” demanded “the


Page 275
general.” They were too much bewildered to reply,
and both he and Eliot followed Coit's lead,
and all three paused at the threshold of Mrs.
Archer's door, paralyzed by the spectacle of the
mother, sitting perfectly motionless with her boy in
her arms, and looking like a statue of despair.
The general was the first to recover his voice.
“Lord of Heaven, madam!” he exclaimed, “your
house is on fire!”

She made no reply whatever. She seemed not
even to hear him. “Where is the little girl?” asked

Mrs. Archer's face slightly convulsed. Her boy
sprang from her arms at the sound of a familiar
voice,—“Oh, Mr. Coit,” he cried, “they've taken
off Lizzy!”

The crackling of the advancing flames, and
the pouring in of volumes of smoke, prevented
any farther explanation at the moment. The
instinct of self-preservation, awakened in some
degree, renerved Mrs. Archer; and half sustained
by Eliot's arm, she and her boy were conducted to
an office detached from the house, and so far removed
from it as to be in no danger from the
conflagration. In the meantime the general had
ascertained from the servants all that could be
learned of the direction the skinners had taken,
and that they were not more than fifteen minutes
in advance of them. He and Coit had remounted
their horses, and he was hallooing to Eliot to join
them:—“Come, young man,” he cried, “let's do


Page 276
what's to be done at once, and cry afterward, if
cry we must.”

“Recover her!” said Mrs. Archer, repeating the
last words of Eliot's attempt to revive her hopes—
“her lifeless body you may—God grant it!”

She paused, and shuddered. She still felt the
marble touch of Lizzy's cheek—still saw her head
and limbs drop as the ruffian seized her.

Eliot understood her: “My dear madam,” he
said, “she has fainted from terror, nothing more;
she will be well again when she feels your arm
around her—take courage, I beseech you.”

It is not in the heart of woman to resist such inspiring
sympathy as was expressed in Eliot's face
and voice. If Mrs. Archer did not hope, there was
something better than despair in the feeling of intense
expectation that concentrated all sensation.
She seemed unconscious of the flames that were
devouring her house. She did not hear the boyish
exclamations with which Edward, as he heard the
falling rafters and tumbling chimneys, interspersed
his sobs for poor Lizzy; nor the clamorous cryings
of the servants, which would break out afresh
as they remembered some favourite article of property
consuming in the flames.

A few yards from Mrs. Archer's house, a road
diverged from that which our pursuers had taken.
They halted for a moment, when Coit, who was
familiar with the localities of the vicinity, advised
to taking the upper road. “They both,” he said,
“came out in one at a distance of about three
miles. They would thus avoid giving the forward


Page 277
party any warning of their approach, and their
horses being the freshest and fleetest, they might
possibly arrive at the junction of the roads first,
and surprise the skinners from an ambush.”

“Lucky for us that there is another road,” replied
the general, as, conforming to Coit's suggestion,
they turned into it. “The rascals we're after
are foxes, and would be sure to escape if they heard
the hounds behind them.”

“I should think, from my observation of their
horses,” replied Eliot, “they have small chance
of escaping us in a long pursuit.”

“There I think you mistake; they get their
jades for no vartu under heaven but running
away, and I've heard of their distancing horses that
looked equal to mine; speed a'n't Charlie's forte,
though,” he added, in a half audible voice; and
patting his beast lovingly, “you've done a feat at
it once, Charlie. They know all the holes and
hiding-places in the country,” he continued, “and
I have heard of their disappearing as suddenly as
if the ground had opened and swallowed them up
—I wish it would—the varmin!

“Had we not best try the mettle of our horses?”
asked Eliot, who felt as if his companions were
taking the matter too coolly.

“If you please.”

The general put up his Bucephalus to his utmost
speed; but in spite of the feat his master boasted,
he seemed to have been selected for other virtues
than fleetness, for both Eliot and Coit soon passed


Page 278
him, and so far outrode him as not to be able
to discern the outline of the rider's figure when
they reached the junction of the roads where they
hoped to intercept the skinners. They had perceived
the faintest streak of dawn, while they could
see the eastern horizon and the morning star trembling
and glittering above it. Now they entered a
little wood of thick-set pines and hemlocks, and
the darkness of midnight seemed to thicken around

“Hark!” cried Eliot, suddenly halting—“don't
you hear the trampling of horses?”

“Yes,” replied Coit, “there is a bridge just
ahead; let us secure a position as near it as possible.”
They moved on, and after advancing a few
yards, again halted, still remaining under cover
of the wood. “We are within twenty feet of the
other road,” resumed Coit; “it runs along just
parallel to where we stand, and a few feet below
us; there is a small stream of water on the other
side of the pines, which we pass over by the bridge
as we fall into the other road; the rub will be to
get on to the bridge before they see us—I wish
the general would come up!”

“We must not wait for him, Coit.”

“Not wait for him!” replied Coit, whose valour
was at least tempered by discretion, “we are but
two to five, and they such devils!”

“We have Heaven on our side—we must not
wait a breath—we must intercept them; follow me
when I give the spurs to my horse.”

“Oh, if he would but come up!” thought Coit;


Page 279
“this young man is as brave as a lion, but the general
is a lion!”

The skinners had now approached so near to our
friends that they fancied they heard the hard
breathing of their horses. They halted at the
brook, and Eliot distinctly heard Hewson say to
Pat, “Don't she come to yet?”

“I can't just say—once or twice she opened
her sightless eyes like, and she gasped, but she's
corpse-cold; and captain, I say, I don't like the feel
of her; I am afeard I shall drop her, there's such
a wonderful weight in her little body.”

“You cowardly fool!”

“By the soul of my mother, it's true—try once
the lift of her!”

“Pshaw! I've twice her weight in this bundle
before me. Hold up her head while I dash some
water in her face; they say the breath will go entirely
if you let it stop too long.” Hewson then
dismounted, took from his pocket a small silver
cup he had abstracted from Mrs. Archer's pantry,
and was stooping to fill it, when he was arrested
by the appearance of his pursuers.

“Now is our time!” cried Eliot, urging his
horse down the descent that led to the bridge.
There the animal instinctively stopped. The
bridge was old, the rotten planks had given way,
and as destruction, not reparation, was the natural
work of those troubled times, the bridge had been
suffered to remain impassable. Eliot looked up
and down the stream; it was fordable, but the


Page 280
banks, though not high, were precipitous and ragged.
Eliot measured the gap in the bridge accurately
with his eye: “My horse can leap it,” was
his conclusion, and he gave him voice, whip, and
spur. The animal, as if he felt the inspiration of
his master's purpose, made a generous effort and
passed the vacant space. Eliot did not look back
to see if he were followed. He did not heed Coit's
exclamation, “you're lost!” nor did he hear the
general, who, on arriving at the bridge, cried, “God
help you, my boy!—I can't—my beast can't do it
with my weight on him—follow me, Coit,” and he
turned to retrace his steps to a point where, as he
had marked in stopping to water his horse, the
stream was passable.

Eliot was conscious of but one thought, one
hope, one purpose—to rescue the prey from the
villains. He had an indistinct impression that
their numbers were not complete. He aimed his
pistol at Patrick's head—the bullet sped—not a
sound escaped the poor wretch. He raised himself
upright in his stirrups, and fell over the side
of the horse, dragging the child with him.

At this moment two horsemen passed between
Eliot and Pat, and one of them, dropping his
bridle and stretching out his arms, screamed,
“Misser Eliot—oh, Misser Eliot!”

It was poor Kisel, but vain was his appeal. One
of the men smartly lashed Kisel's horse:—Linwood's
spirited gray darted forward as if he had
been starting on a race-course; and Kisel was
fain to cling to him by holding fast to his mane, so


Page 281
strong is instinct, though if he had deliberately
chosen between death and separation from his master,
he certainly would have chosen the former.

Meanwhile Hewson, springing forward like a
cat, and disengaging the child from Pat's death-grasp,
cried, “Fire on him, boys!—beat him down.”
and re-mounted his horse, intending to pass Eliot,
aware that his policy was to get off before the attacking
party should, as he anticipated, be re-enforced.
Eliot, however, prevented this movement
by placing himself before him, drawing his sword,
and putting Hewson on the defence.

Hewson felt himself shackled by the child, and
he was casting her off, when, changing his purpose,
he placed her as a shield before his person, and
again ordered his men to fire. They had been ridding
themselves of the spoils that encumbered
them, and now obeyed. Both missed their mark.

“D—n your luck, boys!” cried Hewson, who
was turning his horse to the right and left to avoid
a side stroke from Eliot, “out with your knives—
cut him down!”

To defend himself and prevent Hewson from
passing him, was now all that Eliot attempted; but
this he did with coolness and consummate adroitness,
till his horse received a wound in his throat that
was aimed at his master, and fell dead under him.

“That's it, boys!” screamed Hewson, “finish
him and follow me.” But before the words had well
passed his lips, a bullet fired from behind penetrated
his spine. “I am a dead man!” he groaned.


Page 282

His men saw him reeling; they saw Eliot's
auxiliaries close upon them; and without waiting
to take advantage of his defenceless condition, they
fled and left their comrade-captain to his fate.

The general was instantly beside Eliot. Coit
received the child from the ruffian's relaxed hold.
“Oh, help me!” he supplicated; “for the love of
God, help me!”

“Poor little one,” said Coit, laying Lizzy's cheek
gently to his, “she's gone.”

“Oh, I have not killed her! I did not mean she
should be harmed—I swear I did not,” continued
Hewson. “Oh, help me! I'll give you gold, watches,
silver, and jewels—I'll give them all to you.”

“You are wounded, my dear boy, you are
covered with blood,” said the general to Eliot, as
he succeeded in disengaging him from the super-incumbent
burden of his horse.

“It's nothing, sir; is the child living?”

“Nothing! bless your soul, the blood is dripping
down here like rain.” While he was drawing off
Eliot's coat-sleeve, and stanching his wound, Hewson
continued his abject cries.

“Oh, gentlemen,” he said, “take pity on me;
my life is going—I'll give you heaps of gold—it's
buried in—in—in—” His utterance failed him.

“Can nothing be done for the poor creature?'
said Eliot, turning to Hewson, after having bent
over Lizzy, lifted her lifeless hand, and again
mournfully dropped it.

“We will see,” replied the general, “though it
seems to me, my friend, you are in no case to look


Page 283
after another; and this car'on is not worth looking
after; but come, we'll strip him and examine
his wound—life is life—and he's asked for mercy,
what we must all ask for sooner or later. Ah,”
he continued, after looking at the wound, “he's
called to the general muster—poorly equipped to
answer the roll. But come, friends—there's no use
in staying here—there's no substitute in this warfare—every
man must answer for himself.”

“Oh!” groaned the dying wretch, “don't leave
me alone.”

“'Tis a solitary business to die alone,” said
Coit, looking compassionately at Hewson as he
writhed on the turf.

“It is so, Coit; but he that has broken all bonds
in life can expect nothing better than to die like a
dog, and go to the devil at last. I must be back
at my post, you at yours, and our young friend
on his way to the camp, if he is able. General
Washington a'n't fond of his envoys' striking out
of the highway when they are out on duty. There's
no use—there's no use,” he continued to Eliot, who
had kneeled beside the dying man, and was whispering
such counsel as a compassionate being
would naturally administer to a man in his extremity.

“Repent!” cried Hewson, grasping Eliot's arm
as he was about to rise; “repent!—what's that?
Mercy, mercy—Oh, it's all dark; I can't see you.
Don't hold that dead child so close to me!—
take it away! Mercy, is there?—speak louder—


Page 284
I can't hear you—oh, I can't feel you!—Mercy!

“He's done—the poor cowardly rascal,” said
the general, who, inured to the spectacle of death,
felt no emotion excited by the contortions of animal
suffering, and who, deeming cowardice the proper
concomitant of crime, heard without any painful
compassion those cries of the wretched culprit, as
he passed the threshold to eternal justice, which
contracted Eliot's brow, and sent a shuddering
through his frame.

“There's something to feel for,” said the general,
pointing to Eliot's prostrate horse; “if ever
I cried, I should cry to see a spereted, gentle beast
like that cut off by such villanous hands.”

“Poor Rover!” thought Eliot, as he loosed his
girth, and removed the bits from his mouth, “how
Sam and Hal will cry, poor fellows, when they
hear of your fate. Ah, I could have wished you
a longer life and a more glorious end; but you
have done well your appointed tasks, and they are
finished.—Would to God it were thus with that
wretch, my fellow-creature!”

“You're finding this rather a tough job, I'm
thinking,” said the general, stooping to assist Eliot;
“our horses, especially in these times, are friends;
and it's what Coit would call a solitary business
to have to mount into that rogue's seat. But see
how patiently the beast stands by his master, and
how he looks at him! Do you believe,” he added,
in a lowered voice, “that the souls of these noble


Page 285
critters, that have thought, affection, memory—all
that we have, save speech, will perish; and that
low villain's live for ever?—I don't.”

Eliot only smiled in reply; but he secretly wondered
who this strange being should be, full of
generous feeling and bold speculation, who had
the air of accustomed authority, and the voice and
accent indicating rustic education. It was evident
he meant to maintain his incognito; for when they
arrived at a road which, diverging from that they
were in, led more directly to Coit's (the same road
that had proved fatal to poor Kisel), he said, “that
he must take the shortest cut; and that if Eliot felt
equal to carrying the poor child the distance that
remained he should be particularly glad, as Coit's
attendance was important to him.”

Eliot would far rather have been disabled than
to have witnessed the mother's last faint hope extinguished;
but he was not, and he received the
child from Coit, who had carried her as tenderly as
if she had been still a conscious, feeling, and suffering

Coit charged Eliot with many respectful messages
to Mrs. Archer, such as, that his house was at
her disposal—he would prepare it for the funeral,
or see that she and her family were safely conveyed
to a British frigate which lay below, in case
she preferred, as he supposed she would, laying
her child in the family vault of Trinity Church.
Eliot remembered the messages, but he delivered
them as his discretion dictated.

As he approached Mrs. Archer's grounds, he


Page 286
inferred from the diminished light that the flames
had nearly done their work; and when he issued
from the thick wood that skirted her estate, he saw
in the smouldering ruins all that was left of her
hospitable and happy mansion. “Ah,” thought he,
“a fit home for this lifeless little body!”

He turned towards the office where he had left
the mother. She was awaiting him at the door.
It seemed to her that she had lived a thousand
years in the hour of his absence. She asked no
questions—a single glance at the still, colourless
figure of her child had sufficed. She uttered no
sound, but stretching forth her arms, received her,
and sunk down on the doorstep, pressing her close
to her bosom.

Edward had sprung to the door at the first sound
of the horse's hoofs. He understood his mother's
silence. He heard the servants whispering, in
suppressed voices, “She's dead!” He placed his
hand on Lizzy's cheek: at first he recoiled at the
touch; and then again drawing closer, he sat down
by his mother, and dropped his head on Lizzy's
bosom, crying out, “I wish I were dead too!”
His bursts of grief were frightful. The servants
endeavoured to sooth him—he did not hear them.
Her mother laid her face to his, and the touch of
her cheek, after a few moments, tranquillized him.
He became quiet; then suddenly lifting his head,
he shrieked, “Her heart beats, mother! her heart
beats!—Lay your hand there—do you not feel it?
—It does, it does, mother; I feel it, and hear it


Page 287

Eliot had dismounted from his horse, and stood
with folded arms, watching with the deep sympathy
of his affectionate nature the progress of this
family tragedy, while he awaited a moment when
he might offer such services as Mrs. Archer needed.
He thought it possible that the sharpened senses
of the blind boy had detected a pulsation not perceptible
to senses less acute. He inquired of the
servants for salts, brandy, vinegar, any of the
ordinary stimulants; nothing had been saved--
nothing was left but the elements of fire and water.
These suggested to his quick mind the only and
very best expedient. In five minutes a warm bath
was prepared, and the child immersed in it. Mrs.
Archer was re-nerved when she saw others acting
from a hope she scarcely dared admit. "Station
yourself here, my dear madam," said Eliot; " there,
put your arm in the place of mine--let your little
boy go on the other side and take her hand--let
her first conscious sensation be of the touch most
familiar and dear to her--let the first sounds she
hears be your voices--nothing must be strange to
her. I do believe this is merely the overpowering
effect of terror; I am sure she has suffered no
violence. Put your hand again on her bosom, my
dear little fellow--do you feel the beats now?"

"Oh yes, sir! stronger and quicker than before."

"I believe you are right ; but be cautious, I
entreat you--make no sudden outcry nor exclamation."

Mrs. Archer's face was as colourless as the
child's over whom he was bending; and her fixed


Page 288
eye glowed with such intensity, that Eliot thought
it might have kindled life in the dead. Suddenly,
he perceived the blood gush into her cheeks--he
advanced one step nearer, and he saw that a
faint suffusion, like the first almost imperceptible
tinge of coming day, had overspread the child's
face. It deepened around her lips--there was a
slight distention of the nostrils--a tremulousness
about the muscles of the mouth--a heaving of
the bosom, and then a deep-drawn sigh. A moment
passed, and a faint smile was perceptible
on the quivering lip. "Lizzy!" said her mother.

"Dear Lizzy!" cried her brother.

"Mother!--Ned!" she faintly articulated.

"Thank God, she is safe!" exclaimed Eliot.

The energies of nature, once aroused, soon did
their beneficent work; and the little girl, in the
perfect consciousness of restored safety and happiness,
clung to her mother and to Edward.

The tide of gratitude and happiness naturally
flowed towards Eliot. Mrs. Archer turned to
express something of all she felt, but he was
already gone, after having directed one of the
servants to say to her mistress that Coit would
immediately be at her bidding.

It was not strange that the impression Eliot
left on Mrs. Archer's mind was that of the most
beautiful personation of celestial energy and mercy.


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